I feel like the smoke is starting to clear after what has probably been the worst few days of my parenting life to date. I know there are worse things to deal with, but for me the last couple of days have been my personal hell. They’ve made me really appreciate when people say that parenting is the most difficult job in the world. It most certainly is.
I dropped Sun off for his first day of playgroup on Tuesday morning. It was his first time being left in a, for want of a better word, ‘setting’. Until now he has had the odd day being minded by friends but mainly he’s been with me. We used to go to stay-and-play and group activities most days before Shine was born, but I admit that since having her we haven’t been as often.
So I settled him in at the playgroup, checked he was okay for me to leave, and off I went, back to the car to shed a few quiet tears at reaching such a milestone. Ninety minutes later I got a call from the Manager. “Can you come and pick Sun up please, he’s not having a very good time.” But that’s not where she stopped. I wish she had ended there. No, she says, “he’s hit a few children and bitten one boy quite badly.”
My god, I started to shake and felt like I was going to be sick. I was so embarrassed, absolutely mortified. Thinking of the parents of the poor victims, I felt so sad. I felt angry at Sun, then angry at myself. Guilty and horrified.
I collected him and all afternoon he was unbelievably agitated and clearly very distressed. I can’t believe I underestimated what a big transition it was for him. I tried talking to him and impressing upon him how unhappy I was. And I tried getting him to think about how his actions made the other children feel.
I asked him why he did it and he broke my heart by saying, “Mummy, I was scared by those boys. They wanted to take my toys away.” God, he’s just three and to him the whole thing must have been very frightening. I couldn’t help but feel that by keeping him at home with me all this time, and always being there to help police him in group situations, I had in fact made it really, really hard for him.
Then, since Tuesday, it’s been Mission: Gentle. I’ve been role-playing sharing with him non-stop and talking again and again about what he needs to do if he feels threatened. We went to a group yesterday so I could see how he coped and help him through any feelings it might bring up. This morning he had his second session and my heart was in my throat as I dropped him off. I was sweating and feeling as nauseous as if it was my first day in a new job. I held my breath and waited. No call. I went to pick him up and was so unbelievably proud of him that he had made it through the session and had done much, much better than Tuesday. I think it’s going to take him much longer than I had anticipated to get used to being there, but I think he will get there.
So, all in all, a very rough few days where I questioned my parenting decisions and felt utterly terrified at the ‘what-ifs’. Sometimes Google is not your friend and adds to your anxiety.
I know that if I see another child acting aggressively I won’t judge them, or their parents. Not that I did before, but now I am even more aware that the child is coping with fear or pain in the only way they know how. I implore other parents not to judge too, and to try and see things from the child’s perspective, even if it’s your child that has been hurt. Children need understanding and a lot of nurturing, that much I know. Onward and forwards to the next problem, I say, as I’m sure there will be many, many more!