He doesn't look like a boy who is being traumatized by school three times a week, does he?
I really thought we might be able to do the drop-off this morning without tears, and though he was brave, when faced with entrance to the classroom, he lost it.
His behavior was hideous all day yesterday, just wild and whiny and demanding of my attention all day long. And then at 7:00 in the evening, he started fake crying and boo-hoo-ing. Sure enough, he was already bulled up about school. I tried to engage him in a conversation about school. "What is it about school that you don't like?" I asked, gently.
Eventually, he told me that he doesn't like it when they're in the gym or on the playground and there are too many kids and he's afraid one of them is going to attack him. That's what he said. "I'm just afraid a bigger kid is going to attack me." (Accompanied by sniffs). Now. This is ridiculous. But, it could be true. Eliot is a tall but slender, wiry little kid. He's "slight," we'll say. He's not exactly timid, but he is a thinker. He thinks things through before acting. He was (and remains) the only baby I've ever seen who would stack blocks on top of one another to build a tower and then carefully dismantle the tower block by block rather than knocking it down. He does not like chaos, unless it's a carefully controlled chaos of his own making. So I can understand how a gym full of running, yelling, playing 4 yr-olds not only offends his sensibilities, but scares the living shit out of him. I totally get that.
I assured him that while accidents happen, no one is out to attack him. I reminded him that the other kids were telling him it would be okay and trying to help him to feel better. I reminded him that Miss_____ is there to make sure everyone is safe. We talked about how kids can sometimes be rowdy and that people do sometimes end up getting hurt. I had a tough time determining if this was a legitimate concern of his or just one more made up reason why he hates school, the real reason being separation anxiety.
I told him I would give him something of mine to always carry with him so that when he gets sad, he can look at it, and touch it, and think of how Mommy will be there soon. We looked around my craft room and decided on a "special Mommy bracelet," which is a piece of embroidery floss tied around his wrist. Every school day, he gets to choose a color of Mommy's floss and wear the special Mommy bracelet, and he thought that was a pretty cool idea.
It was an idea that got us all the way out to the car, through the grocery store for a special breakfast donut, and all the way into the very school building. Once in sight of the classroom, however, the special Mommy bracelet was powerless against his sorrow.
I'm looking forward to picking him up this afternoon and hearing how his day went. Maybe the bracelet helped a little? I hope he had a good day. I hope he got to be the line leader, or better yet, the person who feeds the fish! And on Monday, we'll try again.
After all, if this is a kid who requests a pear for a snack when he's hungry, ("Don't cut it up, Mom, just wash it and give it to me." My kid eats fruit! On purpose! I have photographic evidence!) I'm convinced he can do anything.