As I watched my 21 month old toddler walking around the house literally looking like a caged tiger wondering what piece of furniture he could climb on next, I said to myself what I knew was coming for a while… it was time for playschool.
Clearly, he was more than ready for it… but was I?
Nope. Turns out I was in fact prepared for him starting playschool, I just wasn't prepared for him not to miss me. I also wasn't prepared to spend the entire morning after I dropped him off, in a Ron-Burgundy-sized, glass case of emotion. I was completely unprepared to feel so peculiar, so worried, so on edge!
I dropped him off at the crèche, fully prepared for him to hang on to me for dear life, when he then jumped down and promptly ran outside to play. A little taken aback at how quickly he’d acclimatised, I decided that was a good time to leave just in case he missed me and had a meltdown.
Yeah right. Miss me? Er… no he did not.
Turns out he had a blast running around and playing with the other toddlers, while I walked around IKEA like a distracted deer in headlights, clutching my phone as if it was a grenade that was about to go off, convinced I’d get a call from the crèche for me to come and pick up the little dude who’d gone nuclear. I sat, rigid, mindlessly eating cinnamon buns and sipping coffee counting down the minutes until I could go and collect him.
11.30am and still no phone call. I hopped in the car and headed for the school ready to collect him.
I was sure I’d find a red-eyed baby boy, looking sullen and forlorn and as he spotted me waking though the door he’d put his little hands up in the air and run to me.
‘Mammy you came baaaaaaaaaaaaack!’ All snotty and delighted with Hollywood style music playing in the background as he jumps into my arms and we twirl around and I whisper to him.
‘Shhhhh... Mama’s here now…’
None of that actually happened. Instead, I ran into the crèche, trying to play it cool, apart from the desperate look on my face as the manager said to me;
‘Oh he got on fine, he had a great time, he’s in the toddler room there.’
I dashed around the corner, 100% sure she was just sugar coating it for me, knowing he must have some kind of meltdown without me… it was the first time he’d been left with strangers. Surely he’d be looking for his mammy?
And then I saw him happily running around without a care in the world. No red eyes, no snot and tear soaked T-shirt… no huge delight at seeing me at the door. Instead, I got a fleeting glance before he went off playing again.
Oh… I thought to myself, as I chatted to his teacher who filled me in on his morning.
‘No he was fine, he was very happy to play with the other kids. He got a bit clingy at first in the garden, but once the other kids arrived he was fine.’
I smiled, thanked her profusely and picked up the little dude and planted a million kisses on his cheeks as we walked to the car.
I won’t lie… 99% of me was so relieved to hear he got on so well. I was terrified of how we would react to something so new. He’d been at home with me since he’d been born. Sure we’d go to toddler and baby classes a couple of times a week, go to the playground, go to see his cousins, his grandparents, days out, nature walks and do lots of different things each day etc., but this was the first time he’d be in a more structured environment with strangers and no one he knew around him.
And yet, he was fine. And a teeny, tiny part of me was sad that it hadn’t been more of a wrench for him. It was as if this was the first time his little hands had started to move away from mine… a move they’ll continue to make over his life, as he gains more and more independence. And I know it’s a good thing and I know it’s inevitable… I just didn’t know it would start quite so soon.
‘Did you have fun little chick?’ I said to him as we got back in the car.
‘He nodded and started to munch on his Liga as I strapped him into the car seat and it
dawned in me… I always thought I was his world… but it turns out he was mine
I’ll be fine I muttered to us both as I turned on the radio… Mummy's just got something in her eye.