This morning I ruthlessly carried Youngest into kindergarten struggling and sobbing, handed her over to the teacher and left her there.
This was the culmination of much deliberation, procrastination, heartfelt discussions and agonising. It seemed that she was never going to submit willingly or even cooperatively to the process, so we had to do it the hard way.
We had a meeting with the school last week to clear up some of the lack of communication issues and try to establish some sort of understanding between us and the teacher, so that we felt more comfortable. Youngest then managed to develop hugely swollen glands on her neck with no other symptoms, last Thursday, the day she was due to start going to school on her own. A trip to the homeopath suggested a virus that her system was fighting, so we postponed the school attempt till today, the last week of term, but still.
This morning she got dressed and had breakfast quite happily, packed her bag with her snack and climbed into the car. I was allowing myself to hope a little bit... until we arrived at school, the big kids leapt out of the car and disappeared, but Youngest sat firmly in her seat holding determinedly on to the seat belt.
"I'm not going" emerged sottovoce from clenched teeth.
I was firm, encouraging, rational, to no avail.
I used superior force to remove her from the car.
She used speed and agility to nip round the other side of the car and attach herself limpet-like to the head-rest supports of the passenger seat.
I reiterated my calm but firm approach.
I tried unsuccessfully to prise her away from the car superstructure.
After ten minutes of wrangling, I managed to loosen her grip and carry her sobbing and struggling through the car park, along the path to the door of the kindergarten.
I told her that I was going to hand her over to the teacher and come back at the end of the morning… did so and turned resolutely away.
Everyone tells you that it is worse for you, that they are fine the moment you are gone, but still there is always that lingering fear that you are betraying them, scarring them for life, sending them into therapy for years. A peacock flew in front of my car as I drove back up the dirt road to our farm. Was it an omen - good or bad - aren't they supposed to be bad luck - hadn't I better do her numerology for the day - shouldn't I have done it before.
I kept it together for the morning, did a bit of work, then went back really early to make sure I wouldn't be late fetching her, prepared for reproachful glances and mutterings.
You've guessed it - she was fine! Some of it was boring but she'd done a drawing and liked playing outside.
So now let's hope that tomorrow morning she'll walk in, of her own accord. She isn't too impressed when I tell her that she has to go every school day from now on, so I don't think it'll be plain sailing, but at least we've cleared the first fence.
(apologies for the mixed metaphors - my brain is now fried and can't come up with anything better!)