Realising it’s not my job to make him happy all the time


*Roaring, not crying


Eamon started kindy a couple of weeks ago.  I’d like to say it’s been a smooth transition but the reality is it has been an emotional few weeks for all of us.


Day 1. He was so excited. Andrew went through the checklist of things he needed to take with him at about 7am so he was ready and asking to go well before drop off time. As we walked through the gates and he got his official ‘kindy hat’ the lump in my throat and the warm feeling in my chest was beginning to grow.
We showed him around, he happily kissed us goodbye and we left. As I walked away,I was barely holding it together and of course we had to run into a good friend of mine which was not unlike running into your mum when something is bubbling to the surface.


Suddenly hot heavy tears were falling down my cheeks. We laughed and cried briefly in the hallway and then went on our way. Me wanting to mourn the passing of the ‘home years’ that suddenly felt far too short, now that they were gone forever.
Day 2. He woke already exhausted from all the excitement of the day before. He was apprehensive about going to kindy which I mostly put down to the fact that I’d said ‘no to painting because we need to get ready for kindy’ at the same time silently cursing myself for putting kindy down as the reason he couldn’t do something he is currently obsessed with.
We arrive at kindy and he is glued to my leg. We talk about how sometimes when you start at a new place everything feels a bit uncomfortable and scary until you get to know the people and what you do there.


He seemed ok with that and we go over to the playground for a quick play as I’ve promised to stay for a it this morning. He gets ‘pushed’ down the slide in the way that normal children not quite steady on their feet rough and tumble when they’re all going for the same prize; the shiny yellow slide.
The emotions that were only just below the surface scream out of him in a away that makes the other parents of the centre look our way, wondering what has happened and breathing a silent sigh of relief that it wasn’t their child.
I bundle him up in a bear hug and we watch a couple of boys playing soccer until he decides he would like to make me a cake in the dirt kitchen. He is quickly occupied with this new task and I watch as he keenly imitates all my own habits. The lump in my throat is back.
It’s not the being away from him part that is getting to me. After all he had three days of family daycare the year before I had Rory whilst I was at work. And he was barely two at the time he started going.


I think I’m mostly mourning how this is the beginning of him standing alone in so many ways. Of knowing that there are going to be many times when I WANT to go in and fight for him, yet needing to step back and let him learn and grow.


So much of my instinct is to just bundle him up and protect him from the world, from being vulnerable, but at the same time I know that he needs to fight his own battles too.



Day 3. He barely slept the night before. Neither did I. We made sure he was in bed by 7 but it was near 9 before he finally fell asleep while I rubbed his back, something I haven’t done with the exception of illness, since Rory was born. He had been fretting over kindy the next day and I guess in his mind, not going to sleep would make sure the next day wouldn’t come. I can’t say I don’t know where he gets this from. I too tossed and turned til after midnight wondering if we should cut our losses and only send him two days, rather than three.


The next morning he is overtired and fractious. But our positive talk and overly excited stories get him through the door and playing happily for the first ten minutes. It is only as we make moves to kiss him goodbye and leave that the cracks show and he bursts into tears. ‘I want to come home.’ ‘I don’t want to go to kindy.’ ‘I just love you so much.’


Heart breaking.
We calm him and stay for another half an hour, read him a story, promise him all manner of treats when he gets home for being a brave boy. As we do this separately he has now been promised more art supplies and a new footy if he stays at kindy. Probably not the best parenting tactic, but at this stage, it’s all we can come up with,
Eventually we realise it’s time to rip the bandaid off. His teacher is wonderful and asks him to come and see the chooks, we kiss him goodbye and he screams, launching himself at me. His teacher picks him up for a cuddle and takes him off with another little boy trailing behind (we found out later this little boy stayed to help calm Eamon and looked after him all day).
We wait anxiously in the foyer looking through the glass trying to get a glimpse of him to check he is ok. The man at the counter assures us he will ring if he doesn’t calm down, and we nod, knowing that although every child has done this before ours, it doesn’t matter because this child is ours, our heart, and walking away is painfully hard.
We drive home and attempt to keep ourselves busy, avoiding ringing too soon and seeming the overly anxious parents. We end up lasting half and hour and ring, to hear that he is calm and happily having morning tea with the other kids. We breathe a sigh of relief, though all day I feel sick, unsure whether it was actually a ‘success’ or not. Maybe we should have kept him in family daycare. Maybe he isn’t ready.
We pick him up early. Unable to wait any longer. At 2pm he is still sleeping, making up for last night and all the energy of these emotional drop offs.
Day 4. The start of a new week. He has had four days of us telling everyone he is a big kindy boy now and talking about all the great things he gets to do there. We decide to start as it will be next week when I’m at work and I leave first, ‘going to work’. Often he is more upset when I’m there, compared to when it’s just his Dad. There is just something about Mums that make those emotions pour isn’t there?
I remember when he was a brand new baby and we were still on that first time parent roller coaster of sleep deprivation and having no idea what the hell we were doing and thinking that at least it would get easier when he is was school. Yet here we are and I’d do anything to go back to the days where all he needed was my constant company. Where there was no decision to make about the right and the wrong way to handle it, all I had to do is hold him and sway, waiting for the sleep that would eventually come.


It’s funny how that happens right? You imagine the grass will be greener with fewer prickles and the reality is it’s the same damn colour, the prickles are a just different shape.
I guess at the end of the day all there is to do is learn and grow from this too. To try and soften the hard stuff for him, without completely taking the opportunity away for him to grow too. To trust that our very capable, brave little boy will be ok, and that his emotions are just exactly how we are feeling – a mix of excitement and trepidation, his are just still uncensored and true to his feelings.


In fact maybe it would be healthier if we bawled too – showing him that it’s ok to have these feelings and still go on to do the things that we find uncomfortable? I think the hardest part of the whole thing is realising that it’s not my job anymore to try and make him happy all the time – then again – maybe it never was?


How did your little one go starting school / kindy?  Any tips for a newbie like me?


2 Responses to “Realising it’s not my job to make him happy all the time

  • Oh things rings so true to our last week with my son starting prep. All the excitement and trepidation finally boiled over for myself and my son this morning and I feel awful that I got cranky at him for not doing all his jobs before we had to leave. We were both in years saying goodbye at school.
    I hope it gets easier but right now I think I might just have a cup of tea and shed a couple more tears.
    Sorry I have no grand advice to offer, I hope things get easier for you.

    • Bettina Rae
      8 years ago

      Thanks Sue. I hope things get easier for you guys too. Xx

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