So it has been a month now since little N started her first school in life. Her first day was Thursday June 4, 2009 and poor baby had just cried her lungs out the entire 30 minutes. Today on Monday, July 6 I can proudly say that my little baby (I should get over the fact that she is no more a baby but a toddler now huh) has not only stopped crying completely but is actually participating in the activities and learning songs and dances and even showing off at home doing those! What a transformation in just 4 weeks! But oh how long and stressful those 4 weeks were! Not a day passed by when I doubted myself on whether I was doing the right thing by sending her to a playschool at this age. And any comment from any stranger about how little she was and already going to school just made me melt all the more. After she cried violently for the first 2 days, her teachers called me in to see if that would calm her down. And that is when I suggested that I sit with her at school for a few days until she starts trusting them and growing comfortable there. They were nice enough to let me do it and I think thankfully that was the magic charm.
For most other kids, cold turkey approach might work but I know mine is more of a gradual type. For settling in at school, she needed reassurance that mommy was not abandoning her and that her teachers will not harm her. Once she saw that they are mommy's friends too and that mommy is not there to abandon her, she grew comfortable and started playing a little and enacting some songs at school. So that's what I did for the next two and a half weeks. I would go with her at around 9:30 and sit with her untill 11:30 or 12noon every day. Finally we started talking about how to taper it off. Luckily we got an opportunity when my buaji from Pune came to stay with us for the week of June 22. That week on Tuesday, June 23 we decided that we will try and leave N alone at school even if it was for just half an hour each day. And we made sure that this first day, daddy will drop her to school and not mommy. Coz little N is different with each parent - she comes to mommy for comfort and nourishment. And with daddy, she is more playful in general. And she is more used to seeing daddy leave her every morning to go to the office and coming back to her in the evening. So we figured we should give it a try and send her to school with daddy. And that is what we did. That first day of her school, I was so jumpy and kept checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if her school called asking me to come at once and get her. But none of that hapenned. Apparently, she cried when hubby dear left her but he has a stronger heart than mine. He calmly told her that daddy is going to office and will come back and get her and walked off and came back home! I could never have done that. I would be pacing stressfully outside her school (like I did the first 2 days). Then one of her teachers (Meera auntie) made sure to convey to me through our other friend whose kid goes there too that N was fine...not crying violently as before...just sobbing a little off and on. I picked her up an hour later (around 10:30am) and ofcourse she cried when she saw me. But they said her crying was much lesser this time than the first 2 days 3 weeks ago. So the next day, I dropped her to school and she cried when I left. But quietened down in a minute. I remember how bad I felt that day and even called my mom asking if I am doing the right thing. My mom was my pillar of strength that day reassuring me that this is for N's own good and that she will make new friends and enjoy much more there. She will learn to be a little more independent instead of clinging on to mommy most of the day. So I need to have a stronger heart and let her try this atleast for a week or two. She was the only one encouraging me not to give up yet - even my dad and hubby were not so sure :-)
Luckily by Friday, her words came true. When I went to pick up N from school on Friday, Meera auntie said these magical words to me "you will be proud to hear that your daughter actually did Ringa Ringa Roses and Mulberry Bush and participated in all the songs and dances today!" I could not believe my ears and eyes! There she was playing with a kitchen set and not with her favorite Meera auntie but with the other kids and teachers at school! And when I asked her - N shall we go home? She actually said "Naa"! No tears, no wailing...instead she wanted me to come play kitchen with her at school! Thank God for this day. I never knew such a day would arrive.
Since that day, she actually walks with me to school (instead of insisting to be carried) and we sing and hop and skip along the way. She still gives me a sad look when I leave her at the gate (which melts my heart with a pinch of guilt even today). But the fact that at home she is so happilly singing songs she learnt at school and generally associates school with happiness makes me get over all that guilt before I know it. I actually feel proud on days when I ask her what you did at school and she says things like "slide" or "bubbles" or "ringa ringa roses" or the most interesting was when she said "puzzles". I was shocked to hear that word coz she never said it before and has only learnt it at school. I can see so many changes in her behavior now with just 1.5 weeks of her going by herself (without mommy). She has become much more social, more independent in playing by herself, eating herself, sings a lot more songs these days (is singing and humming nursery rhymes and other school songs most of the time) and most of all - her fear of others trying to talk or play with her has come down drastically. Before I used to jokingly call her a 'touch-me-not' baby coz she would shrink or cry whenever a new person approached her :-)
So I am writing this to remind myself that although I felt like a horrible mom subjecting my child to a cozy little playschool at 1 year and 9 months - it ain't all that bad afterall! Infact I can now proudly say that my little baby is enjoying and learning so much more every day and I can use that little time for myself to keep me and my family so much more happier. God bless Mohini and Meera auntie and my little one who is growing into such a "samajhdaar" young child.