Boy was she right. This week when I dropped Allen off on Wednesday, he said, "C'mon Mom, let's go see the kids." So we went into his classroom together. Then he said, "OK, I'm done now. Yet's go!" And when we told him he was staying, he was not happy. But he went with Miss Charlotte to get the ball (Apparently he's done this before). He got a little emotional when I picked him up, but Miss Charlotte told me that he kept coming up to her to tell her, "I'm having a wonderful time." (He's very in tune to other people's concerns and emotions, and he's becoming increasingly aware of how his behavior can affect others. So I think he was trying to reassure her that he was OK).
I thought yesterday was going to be much better. We had a great morning at home. He got to watch all of Finding Nemo before going to school, and I got to play off that by saying, "It's time for school. It's time for school!" like Nemo's dad does at the end of the movie. He talked about Miss Charlotte and Miss Yvonne, and when we pulled up, he even told me which door he wanted to go into. But then I opened the door to get him out, and he FREAKED! Started sobbing and screaming, "I can't go to school. I need a new school. Yet's go home and get stuff. Yet's go home and snuggle together!"
It was awful. I'd had my hair in a ponytail and had to take it down so he could play with it. He wouldn't let go of me. When I finally walked out, I nearly burst into tears. Fortunately, the rest of the day went better, and he again told Miss Charlotte that he had a "wonderful time." Evidently, he'd recovered enough from the trauma to create his first piece of artwork.I didn't realize that sending him away from his home would be quite this traumatic. And I have to fight against all those maternal protective instincts and realize that the socialization is good for him. He talks about the "kids" and "friends" at school very positively, as well as his teachers, so I don't think he's unhappy with anything that's going on. But boy did I want to scoop him up and run out of there yesterday morning. And tell him that he never had to go back there again. And that he could snuggle Mommy as much as he wants.
A few weeks ago, in anticipation of Allen's new experience, I bought this book (we're big fans of Llama Llama in this house).
It's about Llama Llama's first day at preschool. He feels shy and alone without his Mommy, and by lunchtime he's so upset that he starts to cry. But his teacher and the other kids reassure him that Mom will be back, and once he starts playing he has a really good time. So he realizes that he can love his Mommy and school.
We decided to save the book until he had either gotten so used to school that the story wouldn't upset him, or until we needed it to show him that going to school was OK. We took it out tonight, and read it. Twice. As we read it, we asked him questions and talked about Llama's feelings. I asked him if he ever feels shy and alone. He said, "Yes." I said, What happens when you feel that way?" "I cry," he replied. We said, "Why do you cry?" "Because I yove you, Mommy."
He must have identified with the story a lot. After I read it the second time, he said, "I can go to school again sometimes." We discussed some coping techniques as well (like bringing a lovey that reminds him of home). Then while we snuggled before bed, he talked a lot about the kids at school and about going to school. So the book seems to have done the trick ... I hope.