After much looking around, anticipation, excitement and fanfare of starting preschool, we officially pulled Thad out of school today. He attended a grand total of 15 days.
Earlier in the year, we visited a couple of schools in the neighbourhood before narrowing our choice to two Catholic schools 10 minutes from home. Both reputable schools. Eventually, we enrolled him in one that reminded me a little of the playschool I attended back in the day.
Thad was really excited about school. All his life, he has heard that his cousins are at school. He wanted to go too! All summer long, we waited with great anticipation. We talked about school, bought school uniforms, school shoes and socks. We shopped for a lunchbox.
October 5th, Wednesday, finally arrived. We got dressed, had breakfast, packed our lunchbox, and trooped to school. We were so excited! We met the teachers, played in the courtyard, and sat with friends in the classroom.
October 7th, Friday, was the second day of school. Thad was to attend it alone, from 745am to 12noon. He skipped into class, no turning back for a goodbye mommy. We were surprised and relieved. When we picked him up, his teacher told us he did not cry at all, but asked for us when he saw his classmates crying. They told him we will pick him up soon. He asked where were we.
October 10, Monday, Thad refused to let me leave his classroom. We stayed with him till break time when we managed to say “See you later”, and with much hesitation from him, we were able to leave.
October 11 was a public holiday. October 12, Thad stayed home because he was unwell.
October 13, Thursday, I brought him to his table and as he settled in, I walked out of his classroom. He ran after me, only to be intercepted by his teacher, who proceeded to lock the door. My son was a wreck at pick-up. He wasn’t crying, but his smile was upside down. He hopped into my arms and went berserk. Crying, screaming, kicking, pulling and pushing, all at the same time. I held him tight through it all. In between sobs, he talked about how the door was shut and how he wants to break it.
October 14, Friday, Thad did not want to put on his school uniform, but he did after breakfast. We went to school and he did not want us to leave. Aware of how traumatic Oct 13’s parting was for him, we stayed with him for much of the morning, only leaving at break time, when he was playing with his friends. He cried, but was all smiles at pick up.
October 17, Monday, Thad went kicking and screaming into his classroom. As I handed him over to the teachers, I hugged him, kissed him, and told him I’ll be back to pick him up as soon as he finished playing with his friends, and I left quickly. I cried.
October 18, Tuesday, Thad went kicking and screaming, and pulling his teacher’s hair. I told him I’ll be back to pick him up, and left. I cried.
October 19, Wednesday. Thad walked to class and clung on tight to me as we hugged and said our goodbyes. I walked him to his table and left. He cried.
October 20 and 21, and the week that followed went well. As we said goodbye at his desk, Thad said to me that he cried previously because he wanted to say bye to me, but I had left. So he told me “Mommy, I love you. Bye!” and I left. He was holding back tears. Anxious. Overwhelmed.
While to the world it appears that Thad has “gotten the idea that he has to go to school”, for me, it seems more like “I had broken my child”. He stopped crying because he realised it was no use. Mommy was going to leave him in school, and there was no point crying because mommy isn’t coming back! CRY-IT-OUT.
What helped me justify it, was seeing him smile when we went to pick him up. He must be enjoying it somehow, right? But Thad was not eating his meals at school. Thad did not want to talk about his day at school. Thad was sick all month. We had to pick him up midway through school once because he had a temperature and refused medication (BRAVO!). Another time, he had vomited in class.
October 29 and 30 saw Thad with a high fever. We kept him home the days that followed even though his fever broke and he was good as new – sans the whining and crying – and eventually the entire week because we felt it in our gut to quit school.
This morning, we asked Thad how would he like it if we taught him at home. That he no longer had to go to school. YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN HIS FACE. He had a smile you cannot wipe off. He was instantly a different child. No more whining! No more tantrums! He was so relieved!