Monday, March 17, 2008

Kindergarten D-Day

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!)


  1. Congrats on the new dog! Your children are adorable. Good for you for remaining firm and getting youngest to school this week. It's tough being a mom, I know! Good job.

  2. By the way, I love that you got married in red and orange. What a beautiful color combination!

  3. Oh, Kit. How difficult for you. And for her, but especially for you.

    I know every family has to find the right way, but I do agree with both trying to do it the child's way for a bit, and also with recognizing when it's time to turn the decision-making over to the grownups.

    I doubt it will be clear sailing right away, but I bet things do settle down fairly soon.

    Best of luck to you all!

  4. Well done, Kit. I know it was hard, both for you and her, but in the end she has to know that she has to go and that you want her to. Things will get better.

  5. Good on you for persevering. Mine will start school this fall...I will have to remember this post :)

  6. Possibly you would find our children's program helpful.

    YEAH YEAH Out Loud (YYOL) is a program for developing and increasing self esteem for children age 3-8.

    Ideal for educators of all sorts to use; including parents, teachers, ministers, youth leaders and mentors alike.

  7. I think it usually get easier from here onwards. Once they make friends there, it will be fine. Good luck!

  8. Kudos! It's always tougher on the parent.

    When I read your first post on this I decided to wait and see what the outcome was before speaking up. I refused to go to school when I was your daughter's age. My mother passed the duty on to my father. He carried me in to school as I cried, screamed, struggled. He left me in the classroom, turned around and walked away with not a word. I survived and did fine. I didn't want to offer that advise to you to just "go for it" like my father seemed to be an archaic style of parenting. Good to know it still works after 45 years.

  9. Oh Kit, I'm so glad for you. As I said in my previous comment, it was probably a lot more traumatic for you than for her. I hope things continue to get easier...


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!