First off I cannot believe that I my little scrunchy, occasionally goblin-like teeny tiny first born is at school. It blows my mind a little bit. He seems to have grown up so much in the last 6 months and I am not 100% sure that I am ok with it. Dylan makes me so proud every single day, he also drives me fucknugget crazy. But I think he is a really awesome little chap.
His first term of school was quite traumatic for us all. Dylan really struggled. For the first 2 weeks of term he got really upset when I dropped him off and when he was at home he was getting upset about going to school. With the help of the teaching staff and a reward chart he managed to turn it around and was ok when I dropped him off. After half term it all started again and this time nothing seemed to work. He was inconsolable in the queue waiting to go into school, he would get himself worked up on the walk into school and after dropping him off I could see him standing in the middle of the classroom sobbing (I saw this by peeping through the side-door to the classroom in full stealth mummy mode). It was so so heartbreaking to see. Trying to keep myself cheery and upbeat while he sobbed and begged not to go to school was awful.
I talked to his lovely teacher and she tried the reward chart again but it didn’t really help. We tried reward charts at home and they didn’t work well with. He would improve for a few days and then crumble on Thursday and Friday. I tried talking about my experiences at school, all the great things that school helps you to do but it is quite difficult to explain how playing in a sandpit and having golden time will lead to becoming a scientist or engineer or nurse or teacher… a bit like trying to explain to a teenage me why algebra was going to help me in my adult life (yeah, Mr Maths-Teacher I am still not buying your “you will use algebra every day” nonsense but thanks for helping me understand it). We tried everything we could think of and nothing seemed to help. As Dylan’s best mate’s Mum said after a particularly brutal drop off it is as if he can’t stop himself from getting worked up.
With a sigh of relief the Christmas holidays arrived and we had 2 and half glorious weeks… well, that is the rose tinted specs version anyway. Ok, we had 2 and half weeks off school and for the most part Dylan was a little sweetheart but obviously all the Christmas hoopla does whip kiddies into a frenzy and then the bratty behaviour comes out. As the new term approach I was feeling quite nervous. I kept mentioning that school would be starting again soon as I didn’t want it to be a shock to him. Again, he got upset and said he didn’t want to return. There were tears. We tried to talk it up and tried to get him excited about seeing his friends again and how nice it would be to see the teachers again etc etc but he kept getting all sad so I thought it was better just to drop the topic.
The night before school at bedtime Dylan got himself in a right state. He sobbed and sobbed. Ugh. I hugged him and tried to reassure him, I told him not to worry, I tried to put his mind at rest but he just got more and more upset so I left him to it. I went downstairs and let Joe take over. I googled “anxiety in 4 year olds” or something along those lines and an article popped up and I gave it a read. At first I thought “this all sounds so counter-intuitive and crazy” but then I thought about it a bit more and actually it made a lot of sense. Basically, the article said that by reassuring a child you are telling them that their worries aren’t valid and that they shouldn’t worry but worrying is normal, we all worry, and so worrying should be discussed and explained. Worth a try, I thought. So I headed back upstairs and I started to talk to Dylan about worrying and what he was worried about etc. I explained about flight or fight and about how nervousness and excitement actually feel quite similar. We talked for a long time and he calmed down and feel asleep having a cuddle (i know, rod for my own back, blah blah blah haha).
On the way to school for the first day of term we again talked about how he was feeling, he asked me to explain “fight or white” and he was fine. He said he was nervous but also felt excited and wanted to see his friends and Mrs H and Mrs B and the other teaching staff. He was a but quiet as we waited to go into school but he was smiling which was a huge step forward. The look on Mrs H’s face as she met him to go into school was total surprise and she was met by a similar look from me but Dylan gave her a big smile and a little hug and off he went. Wow.
I really don’t know why I didn’t think about talking about his worries head on before reading that article and I feel a bit shit that he had to go through all that worrying and me trying to distract him from it for no reason. But then again, with him being born in April he was one of he younger ones in his class and in some places he wouldn’t have started school until the January term anyway (“some places” possibly being the 1980’s, I am not sure if they do a bi-annual intake anymore). In some other EU countries and in Australia he wouldn’t have started school until he was older either, in some places not until he turned 7! Maybe he just needed that extra few months of maturity to feel happier about going into school. Who knows! I am just happy that he is now going into school in a good mood, with a smile on his face and that he is starting his day calm rather than all worked up.
Dylan seems to be doing really well at school. His reading has improved incredibly quickly, he spends loads of his spare time writing and drawing pictures, he amazes me with his knowledge of shapes and his maths skills and he is enjoying school which was really important to me. Much to the thinly veiled chagrin of the teaching staff he spends most of his time in the outdoor classroom, come rain or come shine (but he seems to prefer the wilder weather conditions). He has such an inquisitive mind and is always asking questions which I love. His imagination is incredible, the crazy scenarios that he comes out with for playing games is astonishing at times. Like I said at the start of this blog post I am so proud of him. He really is an awesome little guy.
Thanks for reading