It has finally arrived, the time for my son to start at nursery school. Like most parents, there is a mixture of dread, pride and excitement at this big moment.
So, it feels as though it should be time for father and son to have their first proper chat, man-to-man, to cover what to expect.
Okay, so he’s been to a couple of taster sessions and we’ve established that as long as he can carry one of his toy trains with him at all times he should be fine; but it starts for real now, so here are the things I must tell my son.
Other children also know the word ‘mine’. I appreciate this may come as a surprise to you as currently, all material things, as far as you are concerned, are categorised as ‘mine’ or ‘not mine’. You are going to find there are moments when one of your peers and yourself will believe the same thing is ‘mine’. That’s why I’ve been trying to use the word ‘ours’ a lot more. In truth, it will probably belong to the nursery.
You now have a pair of slippers. One of the requirements of the nursery is that you have a pair of slippers to change into if you’ve been outside and your shoes are muddy. You have seen these slippers and, no, they’re not as much fun as the Stompeez dragon/crocodile pair that you immediately switched back into after a test run with the nursery ones. But your nursery ones are much more practical for running around a crowded room in. Besides, your mother broke one of your Stompeez when she put them on for a laugh.
Hug and reclaim. Don’t think that we – and the parents of other children – haven’t noticed your clever move to obtain something in the possession of another child who appears reluctant to share. We’ve all seen you hug someone and, while they embrace you back and aren’t really looking, take hold of the object in question. To be fair, it’s a useful trick, but don’t overdo it, otherwise word will get out.
Uniform. You know that T-shirt we were given at a taster session and, at that point, you liked? Well you’re going to be expected to wear it – and others like it – each time you go to nursery. Now we both know that on as many occasions as possible you will request to wear something else. Perhaps we can take is as read that you’re going to wear the T-shirt and avoid the convoluted daily negotiation/bribery? In return, you can stay up for an extra five minutes after bedtime.
Carry. You may find that teachers and nursery workers are less likely than me to pick you up and take you along each time you decide you can’t be bothered to walk to your destination. So don’t be surprised when the words ‘carry’ or ‘carry please’ don’t meet with the response you desire. You will find the staff have more backbone than your father when trying to resist your special ‘imploring’ look. And it’s easier to leave you sat in the middle of a classroom than in the middle of a shopping area. Also, they may spot that there never seems to be a problem with the use of your legs if there’s a field to chase things around in. I suspect you will work this one out for yourself fairly quickly as I’ve noticed you’ve given up asking your mother to carry you.
There will be less bribery. These people are trained and used to dealing with demanding children. You’ll have to up your negotiating skills to get your way as often as you do with me and they won’t resort to as many of the shameless moves that I make. So you won’t always get a Daddy Biscuit (milk chocolate malted milk) in return for agreeing to leave one place and go to another.
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Again, we know that you will protest about going to nursery on many occasions, either at the point of leaving home or when one of us drops you off. We also know that when it’s time to collect you, you won’t want to leave – just like on the three taster sessions and nearly every single day you were at the child minder’s. That’s okay. We don’t mind you giving us the guilt trip, as long as you do really enjoy your time there.
You’re not a toddler any more, you’re a child. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a huge knot in my stomach when I drop you off at nursery ‘for real’ in a couple of days’ time. And for many days after that, I suspect.
Some days will be better than others, but you’ll always come home. And the Daddy Biscuit Shop will be open for business.
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Readers in the Isle of Man will be aware the issue of finding a nursery wasn’t as straight forward as it should have been here. We’re lucky and are really happy with where we have chosen, but it was pretty late in the day before we were able to make that choice. Here are a couple of earlier articles that go some way to explaining why: