Back after another break. It was a challenging month or two just gone and I was feeling a little too low about how I was performing as a parent to write anything about family life. Towards the back of the festive season, I had a successful chat with myself and the great wheel of emotions has turned again. But enough about that, there is news to report.
J-Dawg is now a nursery school kid!
It has been a long time coming and part of the reason Young J had been such a handful in recent weeks was that he’d become thoroughly bored of our mid-terrace, man-and-boy existence and was ready to stretch his hand over the horizon like a Moses before a sea of Lego. I was pinning my hopes on the idea that crossing the threshold into the foothills of formal education would supply enough thrills to satisfy and stabilise his fidgety thoughts. It seemed too neat a plan to work out, but so far, so that much calmer.
A taster session in December meant I had an idea what his day might be like, although it felt a little dispiriting, to be honest. It felt like a group of human beings, albeit titchy ones, trying to hang out in the same space without stepping on each other’s toes. Not the tumbling mass of kidhood that I was probably expecting. It felt a little drab, a little like something to be seen out but not enjoyed. Perhaps I’m laying the pattern of my own experience on top of his lifestuff, but I was a little worried he’d be lonesome and glum. There are a couple of kids there that he knows already, and the teacher seems great, but all the kids seemed so wary of each other that afternoon…
However, since J started a five-mornings-a-week routine a couple of days ago, he seems to be enjoying himself. He tells us absolutely nothing about what goes on every morning, but drops his head and weeps when I come to collect him three hours later. That’s got to be a good sign, hasn’t it?
And the big thing is he seems so much more focussed, more like the helpful and relatively cheerful, playful J-Patch that I dimly remember. He even eats! Sits down (mostly) and finishes his meals. Everything about him seems a bit more calm and structured: it’s as though he’s mainlined Mozart. I’m setting aside the urge to assume his previous life at home all day with me lacked enough structure, the essential brain roughage to keep him regular: I did my best. But even though he protests at being woken up in the dark, the structure seems to agree with him. He’s thanked me with a hug for making his tea and dinner every day since.
While I haven’t been tempted to do the cute picture of his first day (no uniform yet, thank all that’s holy; he wore his Gruffalo Xmas jumper), I was genuinely excited to pick him up after his first morning and see how he was. He’d judged his dropping-off almost perfectly: gave Dr L and me a cuddle and said ‘I’ll miss you two’, then cheerily waved ‘Bye!’. On collection, it was all tears and reluctant wellies. And he was delighted when I said he’d be going back the next morning.
Let’s see how he feels in a couple of weeks. If he tells us anything.