They all gave me a look. A look which said “whatever you do, don’t give him a hug”.
But I couldn’t resist…
Before I get ahead of myself, I should explain. Seth has just started nursery which I knew, from speaking to other parents, would be an experience ranging from ‘absolutely fine’ to ‘totally horrific and emotionally draining’ depending on whether I had spoken to a dad or a mum.
Well, four nursery drop-offs in and it’s certainly been a mixed bag.
Last Monday was his first day and we’d attempted to prepare him the weekend before by repeating over and over (and over) again that he was going to ‘big boy school’ the following day. My wife purchased a Spiderman lunchbox which he was delighted with. He has a red jacket; when he wears it he thinks he turns into the actual Spiderman, so to now have this lunchbox as his accessory, meant that he was over the moon.
I guess the equivalent would be if I bought my wife a Mulberry winter coat and then surprised her with a matching clutch bag (is that what they are called?) to go with it. She would be pretty impressed.
Daisy goes to the same nursery albeit in the bigger class and she decided to take on a motherly role in reassuring Seth that it was going to be ok. Very sweet.
But to be honest, I had no idea how it was all going to pan out. The morning started smoothly enough with the kids dressed and fed, lunchboxes packed, jackets on and even the weather was on my side. I decided to try and get a picture of them both together outside the house before we left so I could send it to my wife who was peppering me every few minutes with texts requesting updates!
It turns out that attempting to get a photo in which both kids are looking in the correct direction, smiling and not pulling a weird face is pretty damn hard. Here is a selection of my best attempts!
In the car we hopped and off to nursery we went.
Seth seemed happy enough but did he really know that I was about to dump him in a strange place with strange people? Maybe he would think that I was never going to come back for him. Perhaps he would think that this was it for us?!
“Thanks for the past two years dad, now who is this total random you’ve handed me over to for the remainder of my life…?”
When we arrived Seth insisted on walking down the path with his lunchbox. His sandwiches, yoghurt, fruit and water cup packed in tightly, it wasn’t the lightest of things but undeterred he struggled his way down the path, proud as punch of his achievement.
(this was taken the following day)
And so we had arrived, Seth preparing to embark on his own solo, parentless adventure. I took Daisy to her nursery room where she goes with the bigger kids and held Seth’s hand as we walked through the door of the toddler room, and into the unknown.
At that point, he realised what was going on.
He clung to my leg.
I shook my leg.
He remained adjacent to my leg.
Clearly, he meant business.
All of a sudden I noticed all eyes were on us. Bloody hell, the pressure of a successful first-timer nursery drop off was intense! I took Seth’s coat off, showed him his peg and walked him through to the kitchen to drop off his lunchbox on the assigned rack.
Houston, we have a problem.
Remember I told you about his Spiderman lunchbox we bought him which made him so happy and made him think he was actually Spiderman. As I reached out to put his lunchbox down, the worst imaginable thing happened.
ANOTHER CHILD HAD THE SAME FLIPPIN’ LUNCHBOX.
Seth’s dreams of being a real superhero were dealt a severe blow and he had reached a stark realisation; mummy and daddy were LIARS!
Feeling his hand getting clammier by the moment and his facial expression becoming more forlorn, it was time to say goodbye.
Go on then…
The teachers are watching…
I gave him a hug and he grabbed me like you might cling onto the edge of a cliff with a 1,000 foot drop beneath you. As I stepped away I was advised to say my farewells and leave quickly as it would be easier for all involved.
Really? Easier for ALL involved? Not me. I wanted to stay until lunchtime just to check his little face was happy.
I went in for a second hug (which I believe to be the biggest crime you can commit as a parent dropping off your child for the first time) and walked off.
Seth’s face crumbled. Obviously I was fine because I am totally manly and don’t get emotional at these sorts of things.
Or something like that…
The morning passed slowly as I counted down the minutes until I could pick him up. Eventually, 1pm arrived.
Now, I have a theory about nurseries. I think that there might be a written guide for the staff that they have to adhere by when telling a returning parent about their child’s first day.
Regardless of how their child was during that first day the response is always the same:
Well, Parent X, I’m pleased to tell you that your son/daughter had a fantastic first day at nursery. Yes, there were a few tears when you left this morning but I can assure you that they were all gone within a few minutes of you leaving. Yes, there were points in the morning when he/she was a little bit sad but we can’t wait to welcome him/her back tomorrow.
And they tell you this, regardless of how your child got on that morning! I mean, who actually knows?! Seth was crying when I left him and seemed teary when I picked him up. That could potentially have been 4 hours of straight crying. And the nursery’s *disclaimer* sort of covers off all eventualities.
(If there are any teachers reading who can confirm or deny this, feel free to do so in the ‘comments’ section!)
To be fair, when he got home he was in a pretty good mood and he seems to have improved over the first few days so I guess it can’t have been that bad for him AND – more importantly – he’s probably forgiven me for leaving him there to start with.
Having said that, this was a picture I took this morning when I told him we were heading to nursery…
So maybe he hasn’t!
#lad2dad lesson When you drop ‘em off, give an extra hug. Won’t improve their day but it WILL make you feel better about it!