KB joined preschool on Sep 10 for the MWF morning session. Last Wednesday was the first day he went in totally cheerful and played and was happy throughout. But unfortunately, I had to go to the room at the back of his classroom for some volunteer work. I told the administrator to shut the doors so he would not hear me. But the meeting took much longer than I thought it would and KG was getting upset to be bound to her stroller. I had to let her out and keep running behind her so she wouldn't trip in that place full of things. But when some woman came asking us how to go to the main office, the door was opened and KG tried to escape out. When I held her back, she let out this loud scream and threw herself on the floor crying loudly. And almost immediately, I could hear KB crying in his class room adjacent to the room we were in. That might have been the turning point towards a positive outcome and I botched it up thanks to that meeting.
Last Friday he looked sleepy when he went in. And we went to the store to get flowers for his teacher for her birthday. So somehow there was some change in schedule that morning when he went in. Also he wanted to get bagels when we were at the store - I think he went into school with the thought that he wanted to have bagel and cream cheese. After a promising day on Wednesday, we thought he would do even better on Friday. B waited for a few minutes so KB could sing a birthday song for his teacher and then KB gave her the flowers and then left for work. But KB started his tears just as B was leaving. Again, I called the office to check with them if I need to pick up KB early and they told me to please come and get him as he was crying.
Monday - Sep 29 - B dropped him as usual. Again KB started crying. B called me from work and told me it was pointless since they will anyway be calling me to tell me to pick up KB early and that I should just leave right away and get him. So I just abruptly left w/out taking a diaper bag or milk for KG. When I got there, I asked the admin staff who happened to be outside to check with the teacher if I need to get KB. She came back and told me that he was doing better and that I could just wait in the back building. I was going into the back building when KB's teacher came out of her class just to see me and tell me that he was doing much better and that he still made some noises (crying) but he was playing with puzzles with the assistant teacher etc. I was not prepared to stay on for two hours and it became difficult for me to contain KG since she was sleepy and also I didn't have her milk bottle with me. So I called the teacher after half an hour and she sent word that KB was still crying on and off but that I could come at 11.30 am and get him. I assumed that meant things were going better and I left.
I came back at 11.30 am to get KB. The director told me to wait and meet her in her office. I knew then that they were going to tell me to pull out KB from school for a month or two. I then went into class and the moment KB saw me he stopped his tears - well, not even tears - just loud noises and just went about playing with stuff in the playground. But the teacher Ms.T said to me, "I just think it's better he sort out the seperation issue at home first and then try again a month later or in January. I don't want this to be a traumatic experience for him.". The director later told me, "His crying is beginning to affect the confidence level of couple of other kids who were initially comfortable. Today two other children were crying a lot. I think it would work well for every one if he just took a break, sorted out the seperation issue at home and then came back. He has a very strong sense of self and I just think his crying is just more of an obstinate sort not so much sad crying. He just knows what he wants and he doesn't want to budge on it. It can work well in some things but work in the wrong way as well as in this case. But for now, it is best he tries to sort this out at home - to be away from mom. It' just that his crying is loud. If not, we would just let him cry it out and get used to it". (On a lighter note, when the director and me were seriously discussing this, KB went behind her chair near the window and spotted a little spider. His fascination. He immediately told her, "Ms.C, there is a spider here". She said to him "That's OK. He just likes to live there". KB says, "Can you give me a tissue, I want to get the spider". She hands him a tissue and he spots yet another one. He gets one and then turns to her and says, " I don't know where the spider ran away").
I am not in agreement with this. I feel it is not even a month since school started, they don't have a five day option, so he only goes three days a week. The problem is not so much that he is not ready for school but that the school does not have the bandwidth to engage him and distract him or even just let him cry it out the entire time for a few days until he gets used to being in school without mom around. KB has not had much opportunity to be away from me at home - when he is home with B and I go out. That probably is the root cause of all this trouble. Now we do this deliberately - every morning I go out for a walk leaving KB at home. And almost every other evening, I go out for an hour or so leaving KB with B at home. Each time, KB cries the entire time. B thinks it is all related and that the school is right in saying he needs to sort this out at home. I feel that the two can happen simultaneously and that KB was on the verge of getting used to school. Either way the choice now is not mine. The director has told me to pull him out of school for a month and come back again in Nov. I want to believe that they are sincere in doing the best for him. But I also think they are not giving him a fair chance now.
My concern with this whole thing is that if we were to go back in Jan, he would have been with us all during the holidays and there is no guarantee he won't cry again. If they cannot let him just cry it out for 5 or 6 classes in a row without my having to pick him up early, then how is he going to get used to it? When he knows mom will come if he cries? I like this school, he likes the school but if they again come back and tell me that he is loud and that I need to pick him up early, how will this sort out? It is hard to find good preschools that just feels right when you go tour them. This was one of the few where I felt the children looked really happy - it was noisy, cheerful, happy and lively. Not that the silent/calm atmosphere in a Montessori setting is bad. I in fact always felt KB would fit really well in a Montessori setting. Even now, I wonder if I made the right decision in going with a developmental preschool rather than a Montessori. He loves the Montessori materials - even last week when I went to tour a Montessori, he was like a fish in water - just pulled out the little chair, took a tray of beads and spooned them into other cups and put it back and then went on to some scooping activity, then on to checking out the live rabbit, then on to checking out the planet models they had on display. He sat in on their story time and listened eagerly. So may be a more structured environment in a Montessori would have engaged him better. I am not sure. But at this point in my local area, none of the Montessori schools have an opening. So it is not really an option until he turns four. I am just going with the hope that when he goes back to his current school either in Nov or in Jan, he will mentally make up his mind to not cry and just adapt easily.
I am not worried even if he doesn't go to school until age four. He enjoys his time with his little sister, he meets other kids every now and then and I can take him to other fun classes offered by the city. But I just feel bad that he likes this school and the teacher and he is not being given the time he needs to get used to being away from me at school. But it is what it is and we move on from here! In my old age, I am sure I will wistfully think of these days when KB needed me so badly! :)