Last week Little Miss A started Kindy. It was a moment full of anxiety, anticipation, nerves and I’m afraid only a minute amount of excitement. She is my sidekick. My constant companion. She has only ever been left in the care of grandparents. Never a friend or a playgroup or a baby sitter or a dance lesson. NOTHING. She would be saying goodbye to me and being away from me for a whole day.
Day 1: We posed for the obligatory first day photos. I was a tired emotional wreck before we even got there and had no sleep just worrying about how it would all go down. Once we arrived, she eagerly peaked in the windows, before the doors were open. She excitedly pointed out all the fun things she could see. We entered and immediately had our first “situation” the teacher was waiting and hugging each child as they entered. Little Miss A is extremely shy of adults. Her immediate reaction is fight or flight. She grabbed my hand and said “I don’t want to hug her” Her face was saying was flight so I grabbed her and we found a sneaky exit and headed straight for an activity. She eagerly sat down at a table and for the next ten minutes it was as if we weren’t there! She grabbed puzzle after puzzle and as the tears of other children around her began she became oblivious to all the commotion and continued on with her activity. We said a quick goodbye and left. THAT WAS IT! No clinging, no crying, no pleading. NOTHING!
Day 2: The first thing she said upon waking “Please don’t tell me I have to go to Kindy?” CLASSIC. The “Day 2 Blues” were here. Being a teacher I had seen this in action many times! The excitement of Day 1 is over and the reality sets in that they have to do it all over again. We had been lulled into a false sense of security. The whining and sooking continued for the next 2 hours. She saw her lunch box, she cried. She saw her uniform, she refused to put it on. She fought me to not get in the car. Once she was in the car and saw where we were going, the pleading began. On arrival at Kindy the scene of our morning was repeated by the majority of the class. It was domino effect. Once one started they all chimed in and before we knew it there was a choir of crying children. I stood outside her classroom and peaked in. Sad but true, I had a little giggle. Standing with the other parents we all looked at each other in complete disbelief at what had just happened. If you didn’t laugh you would cry!
Day 3: Saturday Morning Ballet. It was our second lesson of the year and I wondered if after our tumultuous week, I should take her. I was tired. She was tired. I was emotionally spent. I knew though that I couldn’t give in now. This was a tough love battle I just had to fight. She has been begging to go to Ballet. I knew if she could get past the leaving Mum bit, she would love it. As they lined up, it began. First a tear, than a hug , then a cling and a cry and a scream. Forget dancing, this child needs drama lessons. I am the worst mother alive. The next half hour was dreadful as I could hear her crying. She would start and stop but by the end of the class I knew by her face that she had spent most of the lesson crying. As we walked to the car she had a sudden realisation that the whole dramatic display was over and was suddenly ultra cheery saying “I promise not to cry next week Mum” Next week? really, there will be a next week?
Day 4,5,6: We are back for another week at Kindy. This time three days in a row and after a four day break. Two out of three days were good. She has made a new friend and as long as she can find her she seems to settle. The teacher is AMAZING! She is nurturing and super friendly and Little Miss A greets her with a giant hug each morning! I have NEVER seen her do that before! She talks about Kindy NON STOP. The mornings we still have some reluctance and the occasional sad face, but the pleading and screaming is easing. I spent my days, crying into my sushi, missing my sidekick. Especially after the one morning that she had put on another crying scene. Had we done the right thing but not sending her to daycare? Would we have been better off gradually introducing more time away form me? Was it my fault she was so upset? What if she is just too young and never settles?
Day 7: Back to Ballet. I pondered all week whether we should bother. I couldn’t get that little tear stained face from the previous week out of my head. Was it just too much at this stage? Too many changes with starting kindy? We talked, and we talked and we talked. Between my husband and I we agreed we had to stand firm. The tough love approach was needed. We couldn’t give in. We knew she would love it and we were going to have to just try to stick out the tears. She had to be brave and I had to be braver. We told her she had to take baby steps and today it was okay if she didn’t join in but she had to at least not cry. She could go in and just watch, but there was to be no calling out for Mummy.
As we entered and they all lined up she grabbed my hand. I gave it a squeeze and put it into the hand of the dance teacher. There was no crying. There was no screaming. She followed the little line of pink ballerinas into the dance room, not happily but not looking behind. I listened at the door. Nothing but music and instructions. I went for a walk, enjoyed a coffee and tried my darndest not to think about it. The lesson finished and I was greeted by the happiest of little faces! We were in a hurry and dashed off. As we were leaving the teacher yelled out to us from the balcony. “Little Miss A was the perfect Ballerina, she was happy and joined in for the entire lesson!”
No more brave mum. Just a teary one. I knew she could do it. I didn’t know if I could, but WE did. Two weeks of sleepless nights, anxiety, tears, pleading all rolled up into one big ball of pride. We were making progress. We picked our tough love battle and we won. We are making steps towards having a confident little girl who is excited to try new things, independently.
To some they may seem like small baby steps, but to us, in this moment it feels like big leaping grande jete’s. It’s most definitely worthy of a happy dance.