Recently the Missus and I have been speaking quite a bit about whether we should put our two year-old little panda Benjamin into pre-school. The conversation sparked when we (she) received a call from a local family centre saying that we are entitled to 15 hours per week and with the cost of childcare being the cause of many a hernia, this wasn’t a conversation that I could just “sure, whatever you want babe” my way out of.
Last week, we went through what was for us a major milestone – Benjamin relinquishing his last dummy.. something that we were dreading for fear of him going full on, inconsolable beast mode in its absence, when in actual fact it turned out to be much the opposite – he’s engaging and communicating more, his speech is improving rapidly and surprisingly sleeping deeper than if he took sleeping beauty’s apple, brewed it into a special cellar cider and smashed it off through his sippy cup. It was as if his dummy was the plug keeping him an infant, ready to be pulled to let out the next stage of childhood.
Like any parent, we (I) have anxieties about our child starting pre-school. “Do it, it’ll be good for him”, “He’ll learn how to be around other children”, “He might stop throwing his toys at your head”. But is he ready? Like ready ready?? What if another child takes his toy and he gets upset? What if he gets into a scrap like he has done with other toddlers previously? (yes, he’s had ruckus with other two year old, yes it was as funny as it sounds. We don’t want our children to fight with others.. that’s not cool. But if they do, we secretly want them to win. Don’t act like you don’t too lol). Most importantly, what if he gets upset and the adults can’t make it better like only mummy and daddy can?
Last Tuesday, the Missus and I went for a stroll with the little beast and ended up at our local park. In the adventure playground was a playgroup from a nursery based near Great Ormond Street made up primarily of toddlers from the same age group as Benjamin, all donning fancy illuminous yellow safety vests. Benjamin’s eyebrow of curiosity perked straight away and he began running around, hovering near the playgroup but not too far away from his mother.
Slowly, he began to integrate into the phalanx of bobbing, hi-vis joy, smiling away and babbling with the other little bubbas. I look down at my phone, look up again and there he is, sitting with the other two year-olds in a circle of fascination surrounding a dead worm on the ground. That dead worm, as simple and slightly disgusting as it may seem, was a new phenomena that these kids were seeing and experiencing.. together. Benjamin looked like he had known these kids from childbirth. Definitely a proud moment for The Uncool Dad and the Missus.
The time came for the playgroup to leave and Benjamin saw them to the gate, waving them off. A look of innocent confusion came over his face – he didn’t know them but he wanted to go with them. The last of the adults of the playgroup locked the gate behind them all and they circled the playground before leaving.. and Benjamin followed them around the inner perimeter of the fence and watched until they were out of sight.
I think that was his way of telling us he’s ready.
Benjamin is scarily developing faster than I can keep up with – I think we’re finally accepting that he’s no longer going to stay our little monkey no matter how much we clutch onto the thought. He’s curious to see the world and it’s time to let him start taking his own steps, but we’ll be right there behind him to help him up if he falls.
Do you have any thoughts or anxieties about your child growing up? Please do share!
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Next post.. the perils of being a sneakerhead dad..
See you next week!