When S started nursery in April, it was heartbreaking for me. She was almost 13 months old at that point, and had rarely left my side before. In fact, she had only been apart from me for more than a couple of hours once, and that was the week before I returned to work.
She cried every time I dropped her off, and while the nursery staff assured me she had a great time once I was gone, she cried every time I came to pick her up. It was really hard for me, having previously been blessed with a child who rarely cried.
I started to wonder if perhaps I would have to leave my job and struggle by on benefits until S was a bit older. Other people had told me horror stories about their child crying every time they were left, for the first year! I knew there was no way I could deal with that, and prayed that she would settle in quickly.
Over time, the crying grew less and less; some days she would cry as she was handed to her keyworker, but stop before I’d left the room. Twice last week, she was so busy playing when I arrived to collect her that she came over to say hi to me, then wandered off again. Normally I have to pick her up as soon as I arrive, and then there’s a battle to put her down again to get the sling on.
This morning, S was trying to grab hold of her nursery bag as soon as she’d finished breakfast. I thought perhaps she wanted to try and get the sun cream out of it, since that’s one of her favourite things to play with. But then I went upstairs to the toilet, and when I came back down this is what I saw:
For the next ten minutes, as I was rushing about the house trying to get ready to leave, she followed me around saying “buh bye! Buh bye!”
When we left, for once there was no fight to get her shoes on; she even helped me to do them up.
I carried her in the sling for the 5 minute walk to the nursery, but put her down once we got into the playground. She saw one of the staff she recognised, and waved, and then happily walked round to the door.
When we got into her room, S smiled and waved to her keyworker. I put her down and took her coat off, but didn’t have time to take her shoes off – she was off! Once I’d put her coat on the hook, I went over to give her a kiss goodbye, but she was too busy playing with her friend to be bothered by me, and even watched me going out of the door without flinching.
This morning, I walked to work grinning from ear to ear.