This week has been a strange old week.
For the last few months we have been feeling that Ted would really benefit from attending some sort of childcare, time with other children his age to interact with, different toys and activities to stimulate him. We also thought it would be a good way for me to do a combination of ‘get things done’ around the house and also spend some time with just Baby Arthur. We did some research and quickly ruled out being able to afford nursery, but liked the idea of Preschool. Traditionally, Preschool spaces are for 2.5 – 3 year olds with some government funding, but we found a local Preschool that took children from the age of 2, and were pleasantly surprised by the cost. We decided to enroll Ted for two morning sessions a week and I will be honest – I have been really looking forward to him starting.
Until it actually happened. The night before his first session I laid out what he, Arthur and I were going to wear, made him a lunchbox with star-shaped sandwiches, and double checked all the appropriate paper work was filled out properly. He woke up the next day excited that he was going to Preschool and after the obligatory front-door photoshoot, we set off. He bounded through the door, intrigued by the toy kitchen and little pots and pans, and was playing happily straight away. I put his things on his peg, asked his key worked about 17 questions and said goodbye to him. He was a bit funny about me going but didn’t cry, and was quickly distracted by the messy activity being set up for him and his new classmates.
As I strapped Arthur into his car seat to go home, I felt sick to be leaving Ted. It just hit me all of a sudden. If I am away from Ted he is normally being taken care of by my husband and on a few occasions my parents or a couple of close friends. All people I know and trust implicitly. As a stay-at-home Mum I have never experienced this kind of emotion before – my little boy was in the care of someone else. Was he getting enough attention? Are the other children being kind? (and is he being kind too?)
I got home and where I had planned to clean the kitchen, do laundry and prepare that evenings dinner, I found myself just staring into space, worrying. Then it came to Arthur’s nap time…. which he wouldn’t go down for. He just cried. And continued to do so for the rest of the morning. He is normally so happy and content and ‘easy’ that this was a real shock! I achieved nothing in the house, tried to cajole my grumpy baby and couldn’t shake the strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. I gave up and headed to the Preschool, and sat in the car until his session was over.
As soon as he he saw us, Ted run over to his brother and shouted “Baby Arthur!” – who smiled for the first time in hours. Ted had been happy and content all morning, playing in the garden in the sand, with two stickers on his t-shirt – one for joining in with dancing and one for eating his lunch so nicely.
Ted asked the next day if he could go to Preschool, so I thought he would be fine for his second session the day after. He had obviously realised the I (well, Arthur) wouldn’t be staying with him, and got a bit upset. It was horrible. I sat down with him and said that Ted was going to play at Preschool while Mummy took Arthur home for a nap. He agreed and was distracted when they got out the wooden train tracks just for him. This time I felt even worse when I got home, but I got a phone call to say he was absolutely fine and there were no more tears. For the record, Arthur did not nap…
Again Ted was happy and engaged when I collected him, with paint covered hands just as I had imagined. I hope time away from him gets easier and that he continues to enjoy being there. It is definitely a huge change for us and is going to take some getting used to.
I also hope Arthur can adjust to time away from his brother… and maybe have a little nap.