6 January 2016

Starting Preschool: Take Two

This week saw the start of a new era in our lives. My giant baby, the second born, my humungous bundle of joy started preschool.

He will be going for 2 whole mornings a week. A grand total of 6 hours a week at the same preschool as his brother, in the care of a wonderful team of women who I know love him already. 

As he toddled in, aged 2 years and 3 weeks, (and 3 months younger than his big brother when he started) I noticed so many differences to my first experience of a child's first day.

My first baby on his first day.

My overriding feeling of taking the eldest to preschool all those months ago was worry. The sort of panicky, tight-chested, neurotic worries that only a first time mum can know. They followed me around all day like wasps around an ice cream. Bzzz What if he's sad/cold/tired/hungry/needs a cuddle? Bzzz Am I breaking his trust in me sending him to a bunch of strangers? Bzz Will they tell him that boys don't cry? Will another kid push him? If they did would he tell a grown up? BZZZ Will they open his yoghurt for him? Would he ask them to if they forgot? BZZ BZZ BZZ WHAT IF HE GETS SAND IN HIS SHOES?!!?!

Good lord it was exhausting, all that worrying!

Well it turned out, back in the day, that they did open his yoghurts and cuddle him when he cried. He got sand in his shoe and someone got it out for him. He learned about "2 minutes timers" for sharing and "kind hands" and "put your cutlery in the washing up bowl" and he made friends who are now such an important part of his life.

This time around there were no worries buzzing. It was totally different. I'm not leaving him with strangers this time, of course, but with a group of women who I know take wonderful care of my eldest. The boy is different too: I sent a confident, happy, resilient second born child. A child who knows how to hold his own. More importantly though, I'm a different mother, because I know what's coming. There wasn't a jot of panic in my chest as I left him there, in a new environment, alone for the first time.

Having done all this before I'm actually feeling excited. Not for the 6 child free hours I'm gaining (although OBVIOUSLY that too) but for him. I know that he's going to make his first friends that I didn't choose for him. He's going to learn so much and he's going to thrive, like he brother has. He will paint pictures and show me them with such pride. He will read stories I've never read him, sing songs I don't know, play games I don't know how to play. Preschool marks the beginning of this heavy-weight walking, talking baby becoming a child. I felt that transition coming with my first boy and I wept with sadness at the end of his babyhood. I feel it now with my second and it just feels right.

I watched him in there, through the gate, playing quietly, taking it all in, uncertain but confident and felt sheer unadulterated pride. He's ready for this and so am I. I'm so looking forward to seeing him grow and finding out what kind of kid he will be, and it starts here. It's not scary, or sad, it's brilliant. 

I'm also excited for the staff because I'm sharing one of the coolest people I know with them. I can't wait to hear the things he tells them. The games they will play together and all the times he will make them laugh (which I know will be many). I'm excited to see other people get to know him and love him. I'm excited to watch him grown up from my adorable, chunky overgrown baby into a little boy with birthday parties to go to and stories to tell me.

I sent my first baby to preschool because I needed help meeting the needs of a 2 year old and a 9 month old. I wore myself out having them both at home all the time when they were so tiny. I got a break from having 2 at a time and so much more. I'm not sending my second baby to preschool for 6 hours of child free time to do uni work and laundry (although OBVIOUSLY that too). I'm sending him because he will love it. It will be brilliant for him and will give him confidence and friendships and new skills and experiences that I can't (be bothered to) give him. 

This guy was born ready for preschool. He's going to rock it. 

So if you are sending your precious first born child to nursery or preschool soon, don't fret. It's ok to stress and panic and worry, but trust me, you'll look back one day, like I am, and you'll be so glad you did it, and so so proud of the little person that preschool helped your child to become. 

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