When I Got Schooled By a Not-Quite Preschooler

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Courtesy: Google, my son wouldnt hold pose 😉

My son’s first day of pre-school was the 1st of May 2015. Five months later, the 1st of September 2015 was still just his fifth day! Yep, he just won’t go to school.

The first day we proposed to take him to pre-school, he was more than excited. He had been excited the whole week before really. He’d watch older kids stream in and out of the bus, from the kitchen window, and sometimes even start sulking that the bus didn’t take him. So I was happy as a clam, thinking I will have no problems at all sending my kid to school.

Well the ‘No problem’ part wasn’t happening!

He hated his pre-school. Still hates it. And it’s not just the kind of hate where kids cry, refuse to go in, sulk and protest, throw a tantrum, cry some more, then just whine, but finally give in. That’s not my boy. He’s way stronger than that. He’d never give in. Never. 😉

He cried the first day, the second day and the third day. Then came an extended weekend and we’d now had more off days than school days in a row. He didn’t feel like going after the weekend and I knew forcing wouldn’t work. Summer vacations were close so I thought, we’ll see about it once the vacations are up.

During the following months, time and again we tried. He would agree to go, even get excited at the prospect of packing the bag and dressing up for school. He would get in the car happily and come along. Sometimes he wouldn’t step inside the classroom, sometime he would go in, try to settle down, but would come out crying minutes later. Crying bitterly might I add.

And that’s what happened on the 1st of September. He went in, settled down and stayed in for about twenty minutes. I remained in the waiting area, literally holding my breath, hoping this would be a good day.

It wouldn’t.

Soon the sharp cry drafted through the corridors and I knew we were hit. I really wanted to scream mayday! Instead, I kept my calm, scooped him up, seated him in my lap and tried talking to him but he wouldn’t stop. He was frantic, fitful, and another f-word that I won’t use 😉 He cried and cried wanting to be taken out of that place. It was as if he’d seen a ghost. He was genuinely upset. I called my husband and he was on his way. The crying went on for about an hour. The father came in, the crying eased a little and we were finally able to talk.

In his defence, that pre-school is really lousy. Just that it’s our only option, others involve a fifty minute bus ride on UP roads, No thankyou. And my boy is, you know, ‘that boy’. The one who cries all the time, is impossible to placate and doesn’t talk to anyone. He takes time to warm up to new people, new places, even new toys. Sometimes he doesn’t warm up at all.

He doesn’t do it on purpose just to throw a tantrum. It’s just the way he is. Each kid is different, and it took me another painful labor and a whole other baby to realize that. My younger son is a breeze.

But just because the firstborn is shy and panicky doesn’t mean he’s a washout. He’s a rather brilliant child. How do I know that? Well I’m his mom, but there’s also this little example he showed us that day in school-

So, back to the crying in pre-school episode. He had his mind made up. He wouldn’t go back to the class. We tried hard to persuade him but he wouldn’t budge. After we ran out of creative analogies and tempting incentives, I began asking him the clichéd questions-

“But how will you become a big man if you don’t go to school. Don’t you want to grow up to be like papa”?

“No”.

A flat-out no. That was his answer. I can swear papa blushed a little, but smirked it off.

“Don’t you wanna grow up like mamma”? asked the father, who too was out of better arguments.

“No”.

Again!

The husband and I looked at each other, disappointed and tickled at the same time. Our son didn’t wanna be anything like us. We contemplated for a moment what to say next, but he put us out of our misery. He said, and I quote –

“Keyush ko toh Keyush Ban’na hai”

(That translates to “I just wanna become me”, and Keyush is what we call him at home.)

He just wanted to be himself when he grew up. Not like mamma, not like papa, not like anyone else. Just him. And I swear, no one ever taught him something like this. It was his most natural, most impromptu response.

We got up, took his hand, walked out of the wretched school and drove home right away.

My son is no dummy. He’s not missing out much not going to pre-school. Yes he is missing making friends and socializing, but there’s plenty of time for that. He learnt two thirds of the alphabet all by himself, just with the help of a made in china talking laptop. He learnt all the shapes, from a single youtube rhyme. I taught him colors but it took just one packet of Cadbury Gems and all of 14 minutes before he got them straight. All this when he was just turning two. And now, at three, he knows he wants to grow up as his own self, and not like someone else.

So what if he’s scared of strangers and new places. Truth be told, most of us are. We just fake our way.

So what if he doesn’t wanna go to pre-school yet, so be it. He’ll go when he’s ready. I won’t force him, I won’t traumatize him. I don’t think there’s a ‘I-am-ready’ switch that goes on when a kid turns a certain age say 3 or 4. Planned schooling and curriculums are there for a reason but there may be some kids who are born to rebel.

So on an upbeat morning, we’ll ask him again if he wants to go to school. If he says yes, we’ll go. If he cries miserably to be taken out of the classroom, I will try my best to persuade and engage him, but eventually, I will comply. We will go back home. Next morning, we’ll ask him again if he wants to go to school, and if he says no, we’ll leave it at that.

One day, he won’t cry. One day, he will be ready.

I will stand by his side. I will protect him from demons. Even if they are only in his head. I won’t make him bottle them up and go on anyway. One day, he will kill those demons, and they’ll never come back.

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23 thoughts on “When I Got Schooled By a Not-Quite Preschooler

  1. You know, I am seriously going to need to read your blogs and need advice when I’ll be a parent!! How you brilliantly bring out the best and decide what’s the right thing to do..! It seriously amazes me..!

    Of course your post was a wonderful read..

    Cheers

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  2. I appreciate the way you are tackling it…most of the parents want their children to conform, but all children have their own personality and likes dislikes..In chennai I have heard about open schools without any fix curriculum, they just let the children be, and enjoy the surroundings and learn from it.

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  3. My first reaction was that because he knows you’ll come and bail him out, he uses that. As you said, he’s very smart! But, when you said the preschool is lousy, I totally changed my mind! If he’s really unhappy and there is good reason for him to be, then definitely he should not be forced to go, and I’m glad you feel the same way and have the option to keep him at home!

    I love his answer and he’s absolutely right! He should be himself and not have to emulate anyone else!!

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    1. Well that is everyone’s first reaction including mine. But in this particular case that’s not true believe me. He is panicky and gets genuinely disturbed and frightened. It happens at home too sometimes a certain TV ad or a random sound leaves him fitful. If i took him to a doc I’m sure they could find some behavioral anomaly.with a name, something like sensory perception disorder… Just that i think i can heal him gently with behavior… There have been significant changes over time. I may go for a counseling on my next trip to Bangalore.

      Like i said, i know the times he’s throwing a tantrum and when he’s genuinely frightened. Worst is that he takes a lot of patience and tact to warm him up to new people and the teachers in that school don’t have any of that tact… In a better school with skilled teachers he’ll be fine..

      All that explanation was edited out of the post 😉

      Thanks Rosh

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  4. Many a times I too tend to form opinions about my kid by the behavior patterns she shows without realizing what emotional turbulence she is fighting in her little brains.Sometimes she uses those tears to get brownies (phew!) but sometimes she is genuinely panicked.As parents,I feel we should always have that big MAGICAL POWER and a little intuition to understand and encourage them.AND ONE DAY THEY WILL BE READY!
    You chose the route, that is absolutely the best for your kid.

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  5. First let me caml down… and ask you my doubth is your son 5 years or 3 years old… second what a tough time you are having… I read things down otherwise would have told it is time for him to start going to school if he is 5… but now I suppose I be camler and more understanding… I was a kid just like him or rather worst… I hated going to school, cried, made excuses etc etc… somehow I was not a tall able to interact with kids… I remember mostly I was bullied all the time, beaten up, scolded and kids steal my iteams – pencil, rubber , scale etc etc… I was not able to be strong enough to fight back): … I never made friends… and you know it was like this… I do something good in class few girls would take me in and play, but eventually I would well have no friends… that was pre school time only… as I grew older in bigger classes things were better no bullying… but I was scared to talk to others… and also people stayed away from me… I don’t know why… so like I guess school in early days went like that and as adult I am socially quite aloof too… maybe its due to those early days… well I am sure your son is too young to face school and will take time to be up for it and he will make friends for sure and good ones… just don’t be very lenient with him, he has to eventually go to school too… he should not be a late bloomer that’s why… you can put him in a activity he likes as co-curricular, but it is a hard time and the child as you said has to learn to cope with all this, I hope he does some day… try changing the school… maybe we shy kids are a rare breed, hard to understand but no doubt thay have a mind of their own and will do well in time… it’s hard being a Mom, loads of patience and love…gosh!!!

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  6. This must be hard. Pre-school always is. I am glad for your son that he has you. Most of us forget that all kids are different and it’s wonderful that you can see that. My daughter cried till she was in class 2, that when she was in one of the most easy-going schools and she had her twin brother with her! Not that he was much help but still. It was so bad that there were days I simply didn’t want to send her. My consolation however was that she always came back happy and that kept me going. And she had wonderful teachers. It turned out she just has a lot of anxiety when faced with new situations, still has it, but is better equipped to handle it as she is growing older. It’s the sanest decision to wait it out for a bit. You could maybe talk to the teacher. But I’m sure you have already considered that.

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    1. Ive done everything i could but the primary problem is the teachers….not good enuf to handle difficult children. So wait it is.

      He didnt even come back happy na…or id have just gone with it. I hope things change in coming months.

      Thanks a lot for your support ‘chilledmom’ 😉 love that name

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  7. Fighting the demons, even if they’re just in their heads 🙂
    Totally agree dear! They are our most prized assets, and we always strive to do what we think is best for them. Yes every kid is different and needs to be handled accordingly. You are doing a great job!

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  8. That’s quite painful, but i am sure he will understand all this when he grows up a bit. Just that it is in his nature as of now.

    I hope he makes it easy for himself and you folks, soon!

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  9. You are his mother and ultimately, you know the best. Its whatever you and K decide to do, to be. 🙂

    Btw, in our case, we had a similar problem. Crying, tantrum, sobbing, genuinely scared faces. of course we had no choice, we had to be persistent. It took a month and they finally gave in. 🙂 I did make sure they would feel loved and that school was good.

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    1. Hey….sorry, ive been mia for a long time now. Well yep…here’s the latest low down on that episode. I ditched that school and left for Bangalore to visit my parents. Stayed there for two months during which, i sent K to Eurokids preschool. He cried there too, but this time i felt that i could be persistent, i trusted those teachers. Turned out, it took just three days as opposed to two months as I’d imagined, to get him warmed up to school.

      So turns out it was the school and not K that was the problem. He’s good now. Unfortunately he has to come back, the Bangalore holiday is over. But he’s ready to go to a better school here now. It involves a 40 minutes bus ride which was the thing troubling me, but we’ll just have to make that work.

      And guess what, i did a whole lot of digging around and found out that a mark i had seen on K’s arm on his first day of the first school was indeed that of hitting with a scale.!!!!!!!

      It was a horrid horrid school indeed. I am still fumed that they hit my baby!!!!!!! I’m so happy i went with my gut and didn’t force him to go there. Gosh!

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  10. Ooommyy God..Maa’m this is sooo good…I think u wrote about Viraaj but i must say..he is no more the one you described. I take pride in saying so..😘

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