Motherly Doubts

19.01.11 Motherly Doubts
So we have signed up for Rainbows and started our ‘induction’ today. Obviously, to ensure a good start, we both had a terrible night’s sleep, Alfie being awake for the best part of 3 hours, most of them spent thrashing around mummy’s bed (Daddy is away in Bangkok). So he was hanging tired to start with. And I was strangely nervous. It all seemed to go fairly well, he was whisked off by a young man to play outside while I duly filled in forms and sat out of sight reading a book. I didn’t actually get to read any of it as he then realised he hadn’t seen mummy for a while and Maggie deemed it best that I sit within sight so he didn’t get too upset. Which of course meant that he really wanted to hug mummy and sit on my knee and find the dummy in my pocket, rather than playing with the other children.
I did get to observe him for a bit though, and we did play together a bit too. There is a fantastic mural spanning all the walls of the downstairs room, of all sorts of animals and fish and bubbles and butterflies which we looked at and talked about.
He did a lot of shrieking my boy. This has been escalating for a while and starts when he is frustrated, ratcheting up several notches when he is tired. If we’re alone I aim to remain calm and say something like ‘please tell me in words what you want Alfie’ or ‘can mummy help you?’ but sometimes the shrieking just segues into screeching and eventually a sort of dry sobbing when all is to no avail. He shrieks at the other children if they come too near or if they have a toy he wants, often snatching it from them. I know he has learnt the snatching from his cousins as they did exactly that to him, or perhaps it just comes naturally at this age. And the concept of delayed gratification , i.e. taking another toy or book when someone has picked up just the one you want, is far in the future I’m afraid.
But Maggie’s kids are all so lovely. Exceptionally polite and friendly (sitting on a cushion in a corner I was immediately adopted by 2 adorable Japanese toddlers who wanted to give me every teddy in the cupboard). And they all seem so quietly content. They watched Alfie’s shrieking with big eyes, one of them edging perceptively further away. Oh God! Have I got a child who is so confident and social and verbal and yet unable to play with other children? Are they all going to avoid ‘the shrieker-snatcher’ learning early on to stay out of his way? The little Japanese girl persevered, trying to give the teddies and dollies to Alfie, which he pushed away in anger.
I tell myself it’s early days and there is an awful lot to get used to, not only from his perspective but I guess for mummy’s too. Maggie did an early Music and Movement session so I could watch (it’s normally at 10.30am but I felt Alfie wouldn’t make it that far and had booked the taxi for 10). It was very kind of her and the staff; 2 of the young men played piano and guitar which was most impressive. And even though we sang some old favourites including Baa Baa Black Sheep and Wind the Bobbin Up, Alfie pressed himself resolutely into my arms, refusing even to stand up and dance. He did howevever, watch the other children with saucer eyes and they were so adorable, happily getting into the movements and singing with very little prompting or guidance. I did manage to manoeuvre him into Row Row Row Your Boat (the other littlies got into pairs and rowed with gusto, much to Alfie’s fascination). The Japanese girl, bless her heart, came over again and tried with another teddy, then wanted to do Round and Round the Garden with him but Alfie just – you guessed it – shrieked at her and she quickly backed off.
Things will be different when I’m not around. It’s just a question of time and getting used to it all. And especially getting used to the staff; I think there is one young man who will gladly look after Alfie as he seems to look out for him already. And it’s easy to cry and shriek when mummy is in sight. I hope he will make some friends and once the faces become familiar I’m sure it will be easier. Our neighbour is considering sending Maya there too, when she turns one, so that would be fantastic (though the other night he shrieked mightily at Maya too, making her cry about three times. Nice).
Phew. We got through it. A whole hour and a half, hurrah! We’re back again tomorrow for another stint, maybe even two hours this time, and then next week we’ll start on our Monday, Tuesday, Thursday routine. And I’ll be there of course, hiding round corners and watching my baby grow up.

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