The first time I went away from home was when I ventured for under-grad. I had a sleepless night before the day I left and my mother had series of the same, even after I had made the exit. I didn’t understand then as to why she got so much worried, when I (living in my bubble at that point of time) assumed to be suffering more than her.
To comfort her unease and turmoil, I would often lie and pretend to be fine, but nothing eased her disturbed mind. To my comforting and sometimes self-deprecating humor, she would often reply, “This is how it feels when birds fly away from nest”. To worsen my feeling, she would often add, “You will get a sneak peek when you have your own child and it when it his/her first day of school”…
Fast forward since then, and every word of her rang true last week, when my child went to school.
Suddenly, as the bus slowly zoomed out of the stop that day, the fleeting memory of our discussion came whizzing past. Although, it didn’t do any good to my already vague and hazy brain then, yet I was forced to feel normal amidst all emotional turbulence.
It was my child’s first day in school, post a long hiatus of three month long summer vacation and he had to depart in a big sprightly yellow school bus. Alas, the color neither did anything to uplift my four year old’s mood, nor me.
On the contrary, my heart dropped in my stomach on seeing my child sitting quietly on the bus. I was expecting a more normal reaction from him (screaming and wailing like a banshee), but he just kept looking silently at me. He looked sad, hurt and resigned, staring at me with tear filled eyes, refusing to say even a bye to me. He kept gesturing me to come, but didn’t say a word. The new faces on the bus around him, made him feel a little apprehensive and he shrunk in his seat even more.
I felt like a cheat, a guilty mother, for thrusting a four year old child into the big bad world of strangers.
However, when I got a reassurance call from another parent about my child settling well in the class, I felt a little bit more in control of my emotions. I felt more confident and at ease with my parenting! It suddenly dawned that he was better, despite being alone amidst an unknown territory!
This was definitely a teaser from the “Birds flying from the nest” movie, that we all parents are bound to experience a few years down the line.
However, what I have experienced today is not anything uncommon for any parent. I bet we all have our own unique first day stories with our kids! I just realized that if only we can equip and empower ourselves to feel a little sane, in that wee hour of heightened insanity, our birds can hop off a little better, before they spread the wings and take to the sky!
A few things which I had already done a few days prior to his D-Day today is what I believe will prove useful in the days to come. Maybe these pointers are something worth considering by newbie parents, who are all planning for the big day.
- Familiarizing the child with his new class and friends and even being there with him in his new class (if permissible), helps him become at ease. My son, despite all his fears, knew how his would-be school routine (sans mommy) would be.
- Although the bus trip was absolutely new, yet I’d prepped him a lot with stories from “mommy and daddy’s first day at school” and also some other story books like “Pepper goes to school”, “School is fun” etc. These series of real and reel stories will hopefully help him get an idea of a world that lies beyond the school boundary.
- Since he had already been in nursery with the same school, support as in from his old teachers and some familiarity with the new teachers helped.
- Also reaching out to children, who are in our neighborhood, and from the same school, is also helpful in building a child’s confidence in himself and over the school setting. Lucky for my kid, he has two of his friends from our locality.
- Sometimes, sending a comforting toy, like I did for my son today ( a red car), is also a great support. I sent his favorite car, to comfort him. He settled well in the class with his toy car and I settled somewhere peacefully.
- Don’t rush in early. Now this is very handy piece of advice if you are one of those parents like me, who wants to take in slowly, while savoring the moment and not rushing into things like performing another mundane task. This is an important event in your lifetime as well, so why not take it easily and slowly. Start a little early, so that both of you have time to discuss, talk, pacify and even comfort. It always helps!
As a parent, I wanted to do as much as I could to lower the phase of trauma for myself and my child. I knew, that if I was reassured about the school setting and had confidence in my child, my child would reflect the same and we both would rise over our separation anxieties.
And thank god, I could muster the courage to give him a quick kiss and bye, and not burst into some lunatic crying impulsively! My child must have felt sad, but he will eventually know that everything works out just fine, if he takes it slow and steady, one step at a time.
I believe children derive their strength from their parents. If we feel adequate and trust ourselves, the children will learn to trust us and themselves. This onus of trust will help them develop a sense of confidence, which in turn will give them a fillip, to scale new heights tomorrow.
This is crucial for the birds in order to take a flight one day. Or else if not, then we would create wingless birds, who would never be able to fathom a world away from their dependent parents and will never fly!
So take in slowly and savor the moment and learn from this experience as this is something equally important for us, the parents, who have to gradually realize that children have to one day choose their own paths and move on. After all, they don’t come from us, but just through us. Loving them is ok, but crippling them with this love is not healthy, so learn to detach, let go.
This small teaser (of them leaving us) should be a constant reminder to us that we are just mediums to support them in their flight, and not control their flight! Once again, happy parenting and keep growing!