Bobo started school on Friday.
Not school technically. Just a playgroup whose basic purpose is to keep him entertained and give him self-feeding practice. Our helper does a good job of entertaining him and letting him self feed. But as we had anticipated, he has now outgrown her company and is ready for more social interaction. So it seemed like a good thing, throwing him into the company of other children.
What I had forgotten was that he had never been alone among strangers before. He is a sociable kid and runs off to explore and play wherever we take him. Except he keeps an eye on us to see if we are around. The first day at school, he wandered through the gates confidently without a backward glance and promptly began to play with one of the toy cars. He was introduced to the head mistress and to his teacher. After ten minutes of watching him, we told him bye and left.
A few seconds later we heard him bawl. We kept walking away from him. It was all I could do to not turn around, snatch him and do a runner.
We hovered outside the gates while we waited for Bobo to calm down. I watched parents come and drop off their kids. A few cried even as the parents bade them good bye and left. Most calmed down a few seconds later and went off to play. One little fellow just stood and bawled. It was increasingly clear that I would burst into tears at any moment. D just played games on his mobile and told me to relax. I tried to do that by walking past the front gates taking photos of his school from every angle. A passing stranger could have mistaken me for a kidnapper.
Finally a teacher told us that Bobo was ok and we could leave. My son had actually disappeared into a building and was going to lead a life of his own, unsupervised by anyone I knew well. Granted, it was a well-known childcare centre and we had chosen it after much thought and consideration. But seriously? They expected me to carry on with life as if nothing important had happened?
Anyway, we did carry on with our lives. We went home and waited for the call to come to tell us that Bobo had not settled down well and we better come and fetch him. An hour later the call had not come and it was already time for us to go and get him after the two hours that we were planning to leave him for.
When we reached the gate this time, Bobo was really, really bawling. He looked sleepy and tired. The big curse of being parents is that you had to act mature and responsible EVERY SINGLE MINUTE. I put up a cheerful front and while D comforted Bobo, I checked with the teachers on how he had been. Bobo had apparently done pretty well for the first day. It was only in the last five minutes that he had started crying.
Bobo was clingy the rest of the day. As also thoughtful like something had changed in his life but he could not quite put his finger on it.
The very first steps in cutting the apron strings has been quite hard. Hopefully it gets easier with time.