So what is the actual story with parenting being an emotional rollercoaster 99% of the time? It is such an oblivion of different emotions isn’t it? The things that we feel imensely proud of are usually the things that make us feel sad on another level. A constant state of bittersweet because as our children grow and develop they seem to need and want us less. Of course we know that is not true, but that is how it feels. I only have to look at my own brothers – 17, 20 and 25 and they still absolutely need their Mammy. I hope Billy will be the same with me.
He’s such a little man now. A little dude with attitude and answers. His favourite word at the moment, surprisingly, is yes. He says it with such conviction. YES with a serious emphasis on the S. It is so matter of fact and he sounds hilariously posh when he says it. It makes me laugh so much. He also loves to say “NO Mammy” “No Daddy” “No Nanny” etc when one of us has suggested something outrageous like offering him a drink. He seems genuinely irritated by these questions and we seem to have just interrupted his little world.
2.5 now more or less. Like, what?! I can’t get over this fact. On holidays he seemed about 12 and since we have returned the trend has continued. He’s still as mad as ever, but now he wants to talk. He understands every little thing you say and while the tantrums have only started to brew we can tell that there are some interesting times ahead. The other day we were planning to go to the playground. It is about a twenty minute walk away when Billy is in the buggy. I packed up our bits and pieces and started to put his coat on. He started balling crying and shouted “awk paygound. AWK paygound”. I said “no baby we have to get in the buggy and then you can walk when we get to the playground”. This was met with absolute roaring. He was inconsolable. “awk paygound Mammyyyyyy”. He was sobbing his little heart out and I had to give in. You can imagine what happened next. The walk, which was far too long for him, was a disaster. He was raging with himself but wouldn’t give in. He didn’t know what he wanted. He kept saying “home”. This is the thing he says when he isn’t happy or has generally had enough of a situation or person. “home” basically means “take me home this instant, servant”. A minute later he was asking to go to the playground, then the ducks, then school.
Ah, school. That old chestnut. The little man now goes to playschool and that is the whole bloody point of this point but sure amn’t I here harping on about awks to the paygound.
Last year I phoned a local playschool. I wanted to put his name down for the free ECCE year and have a few options. Naturally that never happened and I am still yet to sort it. Anywho. My friend’s little girl was attending this place two mornings a week while she worked and her little girl loved it. I casually mentioned to the manager that if anything happened to come up for a morning or two a week to let me know. I never heard anything. So in a random ECCE panic (I get these every few weeks and do nothing about it whatsoever. Smart eh?) I decided to call them. She remembered my name and mentioned that a slot had become available in the toddler room. A playschool set up for 2.5-3 year olds. I immediately wanted to run a mile and say no way. BUT, that voice happened. You know the inner Mammy voice. The gut feeling. The feeling you try to ignore but can’t. It was telling me to consider it. And so I did. The lady recommended calling up to have a little look some day. Typical me ended up there an hour later with the form printed out, just in case. It was lovely. Simple, friendly and good vibes. All the important stuff. The kids seemed happy too which is the main thing. It is a local community run setting so the fees can be reduced if you’re on a social welfare payment. My short term enterprise grant would have been acceptable at the time for the reduced fee of €25 per week for two mornings. That’s 8.30-11.30 two days a week.
And that was that. His name was down and we made a plan to give it a go when we got back from holidays. We would start with an initial settling in situation. An hour where I stayed with him. I may or may not leave depending on how he reacted. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. So I packed his little Paw Patrol bag and off we went. A little snack, nappies (he didn’t have to be potty trained in this place. Very rare for a toddler room with 2.5 year olds), a drink and his coat and hat. It’s about a 20 minute walk each each way and I wondered was I barking mad for considering doing this twice a week for the sake of an hour at home. It would be a 20 minute walk there, then a 20 minute walk home and another 40 minute round-trip to collect him. I tried not to over-think it and just set off for the first day. If this worked out it would be about him, not me.
I expected it to be a disaster. Little man is VERY attached to me. Particularly recently. He doesn’t like when I leave the room or say I’m going somewhere. This would be a nightmare. Well, like a lot of times in this parenting world I was proven wrong. He was brilliant. He loved the room immediately and the teacher recommended I tell him I was leaving for a cup of tea and would be back to collect him in a while. I left with a heavy heart and expected a phone call soon after. But it never came. He lasted the whole session and seemed a bit raging when he had to leave. I couldn’t believe it. I did not expect to be so emotional collecting him but oh my God the sight of him leaving his classroom with his little backpack beside all his classmates. So adorable beyond words. I’ve never felt more proud of him before. The teacher said he was brilliant.
Day two came and I remembered the teacher telling me that the first day can be a novelty and sometimes the upset can come at a later time. We arrived as normal and he definitely wasn’t as happy but was still absolutely fine. When I said I was leaving he went to get a bit upset and the teacher was brilliant at distracting him. He gave me a kiss and let me go without any problems. That day when I collected him he had the cutest array of bits and pieces in his bag. Because it was halloween they had made chocolate covered apples, rice crispy cakes and there was a polaroid photo in his bag of him and his class with a Minion that had visited their class as a Halloween treat. Like can you actually cope? I couldn’t. I still can’t.
Today marked the start of week two and this morning went brilliantly as well. He was a bit hesitant when I was leaving but again he was fine after a few seconds. The teachers are really brilliant at distracting him. He is just delighted to be playing with all the toys and his new friends.
So this is our new life change. Two mornings a week are spent doing a lot of walking to and from his play school and it’s completely worth it. I end up having about an hour and a half at home. I get a bit of tidying up done and and a bit of work before it’s time to leave again. I can already tell that he is going to thrive with this. Big time. I think he needed something that was outside of his family. Something social where he can play, do crafty things and interact with other toddlers. We go to a playgroup once a week but I think he was craving more. It was 100% the best thing we could have done and it just feels so right. Next September he will be entitled to his first free ECCE year (if I ever sort it out. Maybe he’ll stay in this place. It depends on our living situation. Ah, the joys of renting).
So there you have it. Little man goes to playschool and I literally feel like I blinked and the newborn disappeared and was replaced by a curly-haired hazel eyed ball of toddler fun. Naturally I vlogged about the experience. If it takes your fancy you can check it out here.