Butterfly Wings

On Wednesday morning my whole world felt strange and then I realised that nothing would ever be the same again. To everyone that doesn't have children, this statement seems dramatic and a bit over the top. However to any other parent they will understand this shift in life, the shift that happens when your child starts pre-school.

My Son isn't due to start pre-school until September, a thought I often try to put to the back of my mind for so many reasons. As a stay at home Mum, naturally I hadn't put him into any nursery or given him to a childminder. I had wanted to hold onto him for as long as I could to myself. The love I have for my children is immeasurable and having them is a dream come true and exactly what I want to do with my life. All day, everyday I want to watch and help them to learn and grow. I knew that pre-school is a fantastic opportunity so in advance, I had planned for him to start pre-school in the September after his 3rd birthday. Although, even then I have only agreed to one morning and one afternoon. I didn't want my Son feeling scared so decided to book us an appointment on Wednesday so we could get an idea of where we were going and what it would be like. The visits aim was to make the process less daunting for him and myself.

What I hadn't taken into account was that the daunting feeling would soon be replaced with feelings of sadness and longing. Sadness as I knew I would miss having my little man with me whenever I wanted, he was now entering an important routine and although it wasn't for long, it was enough for me. I also would be longing for days gone by that I would never get back. The baby days and toddler years.

The appointment came and we all walked up to the gates of the pre-school, my very excited bouncy 3 years old turned into the shy boy he becomes in public. A lady showed us the way to the woman in charge. All of the staff were friendly and welcoming and could see my little man was very shy. We were talking now about how things work then went into the classroom. I could see his little face light up as he scanned the room and took in the sight of all the toys, children and fun to be had. It looked like a toddlers paradise. The teachers offerered for him to go off and play and without a moments hesitation he did. The head kept talking to me and showing me around and every so often I would glance over at my not so little boy and just beam with pride at how well he was playing with the other children.

As the conversation drew to a close, the teacher said "Why doesn't he stay to play?"

I must have spluttered out four of five different excuses because I just wanted to go home with him, I hadn't 'planned' or prepared for him to stay.

"Go and ask him" the head encouraged.

So, I walked over to my little boy busily playing with the large selection of Peppa Pig toys. I knelt down beside him, holding his waist and asked him would he like to stay, hoping his answer would be 'No'. He just nodded "Mm hmm".

"Mummy won't be staying, Mummy will be leaving now, are you sure you want to stay?"

My suddenly not so little man just replied with "Go home Mummy" then he planted a kiss on my lips and carried on with his playing.

I felt a sense of dread sweep over me and immense worry of whether he would be OK. I told him to be nice to the other children and then headed towards the exit. I was reassured that they would phone me if there were any problems and to come back at 12 o'clock. This was only an hour and a half away but it felt like an eternity. I left the school with a lump in my throat and tears prickling my eyes.

I took my youngest to Costa, who couldn't have misbehaved more and time dragged. I sat sipping my creamy cooler, ignoring my Son's 'grabby hands' aimed at my drink and looked down at my phone. 10:58. Just an hour to go. It should fly by. I looked again after what left like 10 minutes; 11:00. Brilliant. I surveyed the room and could see the other parents with their children. I watched, longing to be back home with mine and to see how my boy was. 11:02. Longest 4 minutes ever.

I nipped into a card shop and picked up some stickers for my little man to reward him for being so brave then I picked up some lunch. It was such a testing hour and a half but I made it through. I waited by the school gates eagerly anticipating seeing his face. The parents were then let in to pick their child up from a seat. I entered and asked the head how he got on;

"Well he doesn't want to go home, so he hasn't sat down and is hiding in the play house."

Oh brilliant. I then saw him at the back of the room, back at the Peppa Pig toys where I had left him. I briskly walked over and he had a huge frown on his face;

"I don't want to go home!"

After a lot of talking he handed me the painting he had done for me and finally gave in. We thanked the staff as we left and he continued to talk about how much fun he'd had and how he had wanted to stay. I was so thrilled that he'd enjoyed it so much and had taken to it considering how unprepared we were. 

He was fairly tired and grumpy for the rest of the day and spoke to me once more before bed about pre-school. I sat watching him fall asleep, proud of him for staying and just getting on with it. I was also questioning why he had to grow up so fast.

Recently I was cleaning bits off of my laptop and came across photos of him as a baby. I trailed through them all with my husband, tears filling my eyes and rolling down my face. I'm not sure why I was crying. I was happy that I'd found such a love in my children and had such a charming, funny and gorgeous Son, I was excited for his future but I was also sad that the time was going so fast. I knew pre-school was only going to be 6 hours a week, but I also know full time school starts a year after and the time is flying.

All of the baby tears, milk, learning to walk and talk, hours playing with toys, mornings watching Bing, toddler tantrums, nappies and time spent cuddling and tickling were evaporating like water in a puddle drying up in the hot sun. There is nothing I can do to stop time or pause it. How I long for Benards watch! I just have to go with it, I have to let him grow, evolve out of his cocoon and grow his butterfly wings.

From now on I will never be all he needs. He needs pre-school, teachers and children to help him learn more of the world and social skills. I need to learn how to let him spread his wings and fly, beautiful and mesmerising just like a butterfly.

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