This time four years ago, I listened as other mums talked about sending their children off to kindergarten and school for the first time. I remember clearly pushing my then three-month-old in his pram with tears in my eyes thinking I don’t want that day to come for us. Now four years on that day has come. I still have tears in my eyes because while I’m excited for my son to begin to discover all that the world has to offer him, and for the world to discover all that is in my wonderful son, I’m going to miss him and all of his dinosaur roaring ways.
But the day has come, and I’m going to stay true to the promise I made him from the moment I knew he was growing inside of me: I promise, I will try to be the very best mum I can be for you. So on this day, despite many eyes on us, and perhaps many opinions and expectations around us, I will do what’s right for him. I will take him to kinder and I will be honest and true to him and our relationship.
I’m not going to tell him he’s going to have a wonderful day – how do I know he will? I’m not going to tell him it’s not scary if he tells me he is scared – I imagine it is scary going to a place full of noisy little people and only recognising a few faces. I’m not going to ask him not to cry – we’ve spent four years teaching him that it’s great to show how you feel in appropriate ways. I’m not going to sneak away while he grabs a new toy- his trust in me means the world to me.
What I will do is take him to kinder and if he clings to my leg I will bend down so he can hug me properly. I will play with him and hopefully some of the other kids will join in too. I will talk with his teachers and show him that I like and trust them. I will make sure that they know the things about my son that make me certain that leaving him there upset is not the right strategy for us. I will make sure his “love tank” is full to the brim (a little saying we’ve had for a couple of years where we ask if each other is feeling loved enough by the other), and when we are ready I will leave kinder.
And then…we’ll…I might cry. Or I might not. That doesn’t really matter. What really matters is that I can feel content that I’ve stayed true to how I parent and to what my son knows and expects of me. I am so lucky that I have a kindergarten that fully supports all parents in their parenting choices and understands that every child is different, every child-parent relationship is different so every kinder drop off can be different.
In this situation, I am all mum and very little psychologist, but the psychologist in me says my son’s first day/week/month of kinder is only going to go well if I can show him that while other things may change, our relationship, the way we deal with each other and our feelings will always stay the same.
So if this week brings your child’s big day also I encourage you above all else, be true to yourself, be true to your child and know there is no one way to do this “right”. Good luck – Leah Henzen (Psychologist)