KB started school last Wed. He is registered for MWF classes.
Wed - 45 min peaceful time in class. Then crying began till finish time.
Friday - Cried the entire time - 9 to 11.30 am. But teacher still felt he was much better since he did not cry loudly and he answered all her questions. And he was in a great mood all day after that and talked often about his teacher.
Weekend in between.
Monday - Was reluctant to go even when he was home. Tried to tell me that he only had school "Nalaki" (tomorrow) and that he doesn't have to go. I convinced him I would come and get him soon after story time (the last thing they do) and that he will have fun. The moment we reached school he started crying a lot. After I left him in class, he cried so much that he threw up three times and the teacher had to change his clothes twice.
She was very sweet about it - didn't complain even once. She said it was not surprising since he had had a weekend in between and Mondays are usually harder.
Today (Wednesday) - I decided I would drop him late around 9.30 am.
Until 8.30 am he kept telling me about school - how if he is good I will get him balloons etc - but suddenly when he realized it was really time to leave - he said - nalaki dhan (tomorrow) school. So we tried all tactics and finally I told him he has to go to school. But I asked him if he wanted to lie down for a bit (he was yawning - KG woke up at 6.00 am and so he woke up an hour earlier than normal) - he said yes and went to his nap bed and lay down - around 9.00 a.m., I changed KGs diaper and got ready to drop him at school. He was calm but not cheerful - he knew I was packing his back pack - he sat in the car seat - talked OK etc - when he got down he started the tears - though it didn't come easily at first. He managed to kick start the crying and then it flowed easily and the volume got louder. I took him to the bathroom and then sat him down in class and gave him a hug, told him to be good and left - the assistant teacher Ms.S whisked him off for some painting.
But he did nothing till 11.30 - he was quiet during story time - but that's it. Rest of the time he had been crying.
What made it really disappointing today was that even Ms.T (she has been teaching at this school for 23 years now - a really sweet person) seemed unsure if this would work out soon or not. She said to me, "He is not sad or upset - just mad that mom is not there with him...he is not having any fun and if there was some improvement then I would say OK. But he cried the entire time. And he is loud so I feel bad for the other kids since I have to think about them as well".
She suggested "mommy and me" classes, but that's not going to do any good. If he is not ready she said we can try again in January. I feared it shouldn't come to this - but it is what it is. I have to go with the flow now - at least thank God it is only age 3 class. Not a big deal. So many kids go straight to KG. Wait and see. As soon as I went he posed for a photo (the photographer said she waited till I came since he was crying) of the class kids...and asked the teacher if he could borrow a book (the second time he is borrowing from her) and brought some book from the shelf...he said bye to both the teachers very sweetly and told Ms.T that he will be good on Friday - she asked him if he will bring a smile - he said "yeah". Ms.T said to him "Leave your tears at home, just bring your smiles - because if you cry so much it hurts my ears and the other kids as well"...and she gave him a high five. He played for some time in the play ground on his own (which he can for even two hrs if I am somewhere in that building) while I talked to another parent and when he got into the car he told me how Ms.C (the director) was not there today and said "Phone panni kekalam (Let's call and ask) - Ms.Cindy please come to the W school". It is not any English language problem since he communicates well with the teachers in English. And he likes both the teachers. He loves the school. The only problem is my absence while he is at school.
I was feeling a little emotionally riled up thinking about what the teacher said - that he may not be ready for school yet. It is hard as a parent to just accept that especially when you see two other kids in class who are coming to school (others have been away from mom before this) for the first time and adjusting in a couple of days. It is hard not to project this on myself as some kind of failure on my part to have given him adequate exposure or time away from me.
KB is otherwise so confident when he talks to the teachers, is observant and aware of what is happening around him in school despite his crying - he tells me which book they read, which kid did what etc. I guess this is the beginning of my own growth in the process of parenting outside the warm confines and comforts of my own home. I can have expectations of things going a certain way but I have to accept things as it is and let him just be and come to terms with things at his own pace. I have to call the shots here - do I want to keep pushing it because it is generally accepted that children have a hard time initially or do I believe the teacher (I don't have a choice really - if she feels he is not ready - but I could at least request her to try for a little longer) when she says he is not ready and just wait a few months. I thought this whole process would be an emotional one for me. But I am glad that I feel a strange sense of calm despite the disappointment of such a difficult start - that if I have to wait a few more months I am OK with it. It is just age three and if he needs a slower transition into being away from me (which is clearly the only problem and not going to school itself), we will just work on it in the coming months. We are to blame too - B comes home past 8.00 pm on most days and on weekends we tend to go out as a family. So KB hardly has time away from me - I am an absolute constant in his life. So I can't expect this to be easy on him - although I guess I didn't expect it to come to this - where they may ask me to pull him out for now. Anyway - he has promised me he will be good on Friday - so there is always hope.
When KB was about 3 or 6m old (I don't remember clearly), his pediatrician wrote in his notes (which I saw a year later) "sensitive and opinionated". KB is very strong willed. While he is soft-natured in the sense of being concerned about other people, there are things he just will not budge on - no reward can make him change his mind. I had told him I would get him a new set of balloons if he was good at school today - but that clearly did not work - he knew he hadn't been good so he didn't even ask for it on our ride back from school. His doctor told me to watch for some of the infant personality traits to show up again in his adulthood - that he believes that some of those show up even later in life. I suppose this is a preview of what life at age 3, 13 or 30 will be like for me with KB!