So the ‘Terrbile Threes’ seem to have disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. My wonderful, funny, little guy is back!
Anyway, our big news is that Callum has started pre-kindy. Already! I know! My little baby is growing up!
It took me ages to do all the research, ask around, check out the facilities, ask questions, go for trial sessions – the whole process took about 4 weeks. I checked out 3 recommended pre-kindys that were in our area. And settled with the one I liked the most, based on their learning program, set up, people, atmosphere. Actually, all of them were pretty good and it was hard to spot the differences between them. In the end we chose the one that was a 5 minute walk from our house and offered a 4 hour session once a week.
In Western Australia, pre-kindy is for kids aged 3 and it’s completely optional. They are privately run centres, with most of them offering 2 hour classes twice a week. And like everything to do about parenting, there are different schools of thought about pre-kindys, and whether kids really need it or when is the best age to start etc.
Initially, I observed the kids do puzzles, painting, craft, play-doh, drawing, singing, dancing… and I thought, “Uh, I do all this stuff with Callum AT HOME. Is this really necessary? Do we really need to pay for this? Isn’t this why I’m a stay at home mum??”
During the ‘Hokey Pokey’, I had to keep reminding myself and walking through in my head WHY we were doing this (pre-kindy, not the hokey pokey). And basically — it’s the right time for Callum to develop some social and interaction skills, independence and self-confidence, to do all the above mentioned activities without me hanging around, to experience some structured learning, get him happy and comfortable with the idea of “school”, and to do all these things outside the context of his home – where he rules the roost. Oh, and to give me some alone time with Sean.
Before we had kids, when we decided that I’d be a stay at home mum, I never planned to put my kids into any day care or private care. Mainly because I was in a [truly blessed] situation to have heaps of family around me who were happy and willing to look after the kids. So the idea of “paying for strangers to look after my child” was one that I struggled to get used to.
I definitely braced myself for it. I already know, heard and read of mums who are stricken with guilt and trauma when they first leave their children in day care. That, it is SO hard in the beginning, and that it always gets better. That, after a few weeks, the little buggers can’t wait to get rid of you at the door and run off to play with their friends.
So we went for a few trial sessions and I stayed and saw what the kids got up to. I loved it. Callum loved it. The kids. The activities. The teachers. The food. The toys. Oh the toys.
But on the third session, I finally had to leave. He didn’t really cry. He just looked at me with teary eyes and peeped, “Please don’t go mummy.” Then after a few moments, after I unsuccessfully convinced him that I DO have to go, he cried. In fact he howled! One of the teachers had to pry his fingers apart, which were clinging to my leg and pull him away to another room with his arms still reaching out for me. The expression on his face said more than his howling. Don’t leave me alone with these people! How could yooooooou! Mother! Nooooooooooo!
Oooh it was hard. Ooooh the guilt. The awful guilt. My poor little Callum. I felt soooooo bad. Like I betrayed him. Deserted him. How would he ever trust me again?
I walked home. Sean had a nap. I did the washing. I mopped the floor. I prepared lunch. I scrubbed and polished the oven with a toothbrush until it shone like a glistening spaceship and smelt like a pine forest. Never has my oven been so clean. Never has my house sparkled with the blood and sweat of guilt.
When I picked Callum up. I peeked through the door to his room. He was fine. Happy. Playing. Giggling. Like I knew he would be. My wonderful, funny, little guy.