Last week when I went to pick Charlie up at preschool on Tuesday, the teacher informed me that they had found him crying in the bathroom, sobbing that he missed Mommy.
Huh. Kind of strange. He had so far not evidenced any separation anxiety with school (quite the opposite, actually). But the next day, same thing with the random tears in the middle of the morning.
Then Thursday morning came and he lost his mind when I started to leave. Sobbing, clutching, screaming after me when I tried to leave, the whole nine yards.
I stood upstairs (the school is in a church basement) for a full twenty minutes listening to him cry, waiting to see if the teachers thought I should take him home. One of them finally came up and told me it was my choice, that they could distract him eventually but if I wanted to, I could take him home with me.
I left him there. It was truly awful. Walking away from a desperately crying child is pretty much the cliche of a mother's heart breaking.
But I did it, because I really think he needs to be in school now and I knew if I caved, it would be even worse later.
The report when I picked him up was that he cried for quite awhile, but after one of the teachers read him many, many books, he finally calmed down.
His next school day was this past Tuesday. As soon as I announced it was time to go to school, the tears started. He went to the bathroom and put on his boots and got in the car, as I asked him to do, but he sobbed the whole time. He doesn't like school, he said. He misses me, he said. He doesn't like the Play Doh or the sandbox or the playground or the snacks.
He cried the whole way to drop off Cubby, the whole way into his school, the whole time I put on his slippers and made him wash his hands. And then I gave him a hug, unwrapped his clinging arms from my legs, and left.
Again with the heart breaking.
This time, though, the teacher said he got a hold of himself quickly and went right in to help make bread with everyone else.
Yesterday was a field trip to the apple orchard, which Jack and I attended, so there were no partings to worry about. But he still got teary whenever school was mentioned and repeated that he didn't like anything about school and missed me when he was there.
This morning he was a whole different kid. He was psyching himself up all morning, talking about how he's big now and can go to school. Talking about how he loves the Play Doh and the sandbox and the snacks. He put his shoes on and got in the car with nary a tear. When we got to Cubby's school to drop him off, Charlie announced, "Mommy, I'm used to school now."
And then we went right to his school, put on his slippers, washed his hands, and went into the snack room to cut up fruit for fruit salad. There was a small moment of hesitation when I quickly kissed him good-bye and bolted, but he was led to the table by a teacher and was fine.
As A. said when I called to tell him (I had to share my relief about it with someone), "Well, Charlie's kind of an all-or-nothing guy."
I can't tell you how relieved I am that this morning it was nothing. And I sincerely hope that nothing is what we get from here on out.