In one week, S will turn 3. Besides my reminiscing over how much she’s grown and changed since I was in the hospital with that tiny, orange bundle, this means a change at nursery. She will move rooms.
She started off in Ladybird Room, which is for 1-2 year olds. When she first went, she was sitting up and crawling, but not yet walking. That room is large and seemed to always be filled with little toddling dribblers; you had to be careful where you stepped because either one of the children or one of their toys was always likely to be under your foot at any given moment. By the time she turned 2, the difference between her and the children who had just turned 1 was obvious. Still, she seemed happy playing with her friends and I was worried about her moving.
When it was time for her to move rooms, she had several visits to her new room – a smaller room downstairs, usually with around 6-8 children and 2 members of staff. I was horrified a the thought of my tiny baby going downstairs with all these big children but her new keyworker made a collage of photos of her visiting the room, to show how well she was getting on. She moved downstairs to Honeybee room without even a hint of fuss or bother. No crying, no clinging; after a couple of days she began taking off her coat and running off to play before I could even have a kiss goodbye!
As S’s birthday has drawn nearer, I’ve known she would be moving to the next room, and the thought terrified me. Butterfly room is the preschool room, and children go straight from this room to actual school. It seems more like a proper classroom, with raucous shouting and running around. I remember visiting that room when I first came to look at the nursery, with S asleep in the sling on my chest, and being completely unable to imagine that my tiny baby would ever be big enough to play in this room. Yet here she is, almost 3 and ready to move.
Some of you may remember a while ago S began crying and clinging to me at nursery drop off. I found this really hard, because she had never done anything like it before. The staff in the room worked really hard to help her to settle into the room, and I began bringing her in a few minutes later so that there would already be exciting activities out for her to play with. At the time, her keyworker said to me that S might feel a little shaken up because some of her friends had moved into Butterfly room, and new children had come down from Ladybird room. At the time I thought this was unlikely, as she still had familiar faces around her, and seemed to enjoy playing with them.
With her pending move to Butterfly room, she has been visiting the older children and her new keyworker for a couple of hours each day. On the day of her first visit, I was told she didn’t want to go back to Honeybee room. On the second day, she had a whale of a time and the room manager said she seemed really confident and had a great time.
On Monday morning, the clocks had gone forward and we were both very sleepy. S did not want to get out of bed, and kept saying “no Mummy, I still sleeping!” I started saying, “you have nursery today, don’t you want to go and see your friends?” There was no answer. I began to list the names of the children in her room. Still no answer. Then I asked, “aren’t you going to go to Butterfly room with A today?” A is her new keyworker, and someone she’s been friends with since she was in Ladybird room. She began to stir under the covers, so I began to list the names of children in Butterfly room that I could remember – pretty much just the 4 or 5 children who have moved up since S has been in Honeybees. She immediately jumped out of bed and said “I choose my clothes Mummy!” before disappearing off to her bedroom for suitable attire.
Is it possible that the trouble we had a couple of months ago really was just that she was missing her friends who had moved rooms? While I am busy fretting about my delicate little flower being lost in a crowder of bigger, bolshier preschoolers, it seems that she is busy joining in with them, running and shouting and laughing. On Monday when she left nursery, she brought with her pictures she had made in both Butterfly room and Honeybee room. When we came home I took them out of my bag and put them on her table, and she made very sure to show me the two pictures from Butterfly room several times. “Look Mummy, look at my picture!”
The children in Butterfly room have a much larger space, and much more going on. They have French lessons and chicken eggs hatching under a lamp in the corner and they have set times during the day where the children can decide what to do – including whether to go and play outside. S’s friends with whom she’s spent most of her Honeybee year will be there to play with, and she loves all of the staff in her new room.
Last time S moved rooms, I had been self employed for a few months. I told myself it didn’t matter if she couldn’t settle in the new room; I would just pull her out of nursery and find a way to work from home around her being there. This time, I don’t think I have anything to worry about… which is exactly what I’m telling mysel in the run-up to her move!