I've been so excited about Eric starting school, and his own excitement has increased mine even more...we've had to do a countdown of how many nights are left before school, yesterday he kept asking if he could go to bed from lunchtime at about 12pm (no exaggeration) so he could wake up and go to school, and this morning when he woke up he came running into the bathroom whilst I was in the shower and banged on the shower cubicle with both fists like a maniac shouting "IS IT SCHOOL DAY?!" It's been like waiting for Christmas. So I thought we'd be absolutely fine. I was wrong! We happily chatted about the upcoming day over brekkie (although he was too excited to eat lots). Then Eric cheerfully got dressed in his new school uniform which he loves.
But then the cracks started to show. I was desperate to get a really lovely picture of him in his school uniform...To start with Eric humoured me, and wanted to take some pictures of me on his camera too, but I think my emotions started to get the better of me and I got really stressy trying to get him in exactly the right place and to smile (the best way to get children to smile is not to repeatedly ask them to smile until they get upset, I know this! The best way is to say 'bottoms') and then we both got upset and I felt awful. Perversely the best pictures are the first ones when he was genuinely happy (of course! I hate forced photos). What was I thinking?! I think it was just my emotions about the day. I apologised for upsetting him.
Then, leaving exactly on time (very rare for me) we scooted to school, and Eric seemed a tiny bit apprehensive, although still excited. He kept saying his knee hurt and he was tired so I pulled him along a bit, and he didn't stop and talk to friends as much as usual. When we arrived we put his scooter in the bike park and waited in a queue with all the other parents and children outside the classroom. He was excited but more cuddly than usual. He held my hand all the while, which is usually reserved only for walking by the road, and when I kissed him on the head he kissed me on the tummy, then we had a hug. I felt tearful but kept excitedly talking to him and framing it positively.
We went into the cloakroom and found his peg to hang up all his things then went into the classroom and said hello to his teacher, who already knew his name. He was immediately confident and ran to the investigation area and started playing. He gets a bit excitable and distracted so he flitted round the classroom to all the different areas, playing with lots of things. He confidently introduced himself to new children and got stuck in playing with them straight away. The classroom was way hotter and more crowded and chaotic than I expected. I thought there would be 22 children in the class as 44 places were offered, but I think they've done it differently and made split year classes, as there were probably about 28 children plus their parents, and it felt like 100. The time came for the parents and carers to leave and I got a cursory goodbye and a quick hug before he ran off to do something else! I walked home and the house felt empty, with too many redundant toys. I felt so emotional I had to have a cry on the phone to my boyfriend, who's been through this before with his daughter.
I was really excited to pick Eric up at 12pm (he's just doing half days for the first two weeks), and I thought he'd have had a brilliant day, so I was quite surprised when he came out of the classroom crying. It transpired that he couldn't find his drink bottle. It was in his school bag, I hadn't realised there was a special box to put the drinks in in the morning. His teacher told me he had also cried during the day as he hadn't been chosen first to pick a song. Then he lay down on the ground outside the classroom and wanted to go to sleep. I felt instant worry and guilt that he wasn't enjoying it, "maybe he is too young", "maybe I should homeschool", etc. I felt awful and sad for him. We went to the playground after school to play with his old preschool friends and I think that little bit of familiarity helped cheer him up. Talking to the other parents reminded me that although he went to the preschool attached to the school, and has been to his classroom and met his teacher lots of times, the set up is different, the routine is different, there are new children not just old friends and 6 weeks of summer holidays without preschool is a long time. I understand him feeling overwhelmed. I sat with him and watched films and talked to him all afternoon. He was super tired and went to bed and to sleep an hour earlier than usual
The rest of the week (written 16th September 2014)
The second day of school started better. In the morning we were ready nice and early again and Eric went outside to play with the children from next door and next door but one, then we all walked to school together, which he loved and made him happy. It seemed to give him more confidence for the day.
He was a bit quiet going into his classroom again on the second day, but once inside he busied himself straight away playing. He was fine when I left, the same nonchalant goodbye, and he was happier than the first day when I picked him up. Every morning we now walk to school with the neighbours and every day since the first he comes out from school increasingly happier and more confident. He's his usual self again. If I ask " How was school?" he'll say "I've forgotten" or "I don't know", but he'll tell me little snippets of information if I ask more specific questions, like "who did you sit next to today?" or "did you have circle time today?", and he's starting to volunteer information without being asked. He especially loved PE and really excitedly explained the game they played to me.
Every day after school we go to the playground for an hour. We check his book bag when we get home and he now has a poetry book and a reading book to look at every day, which I then sign off in his reading record. He was really excited to start having school dinners this week and to my immense surprise he has tried everything so far. He goes to sleep an hour earlier now at 7:10pm and is sleeping really well. There have been some blips... a late morning when he didn't want to put on his school uniform, school shoes not coming back from Daddy's house, etc., but overall he's settling in so well and seems really happy. I couldn't be prouder (or more relieved, phew!)