Yesterday, after class, Ollie asked “more school?” and was disappointed that we had to leave, so today we did a second day.
He did fairly well until circle time, when we had a disagreement about him jumping around and running into other kids who were all sitting nicely and singing. This argument ended with both of us crying on the stairs and me having a bloody lip. He was ready to try again before I was, and had I followed the “oxygen mask” rule, we would have just left then.
Fast forward to the end of circle time where my kid always bolts for the door like there’s a fire, knocking over old ladies and kicking crutches out from under the injured in his hurry to be first down the stairs. I drag him back up umpteen times to put his stolen maracas away, to put on his shoes, to put on his jacket, etc before we make our descent. That’s when the bananas really hit the fan.
There is a magical, wonderful door at the bottom of the staircase that leads directly to the parking lot. We are not allowed to use it. We are required to enter and leave through the main door at the front of the building. It’s a safety thing as I’m sure a kidnapper would be stopped by the unspoken rule that we don’t use that door and be waylaid by school staff when exiting properly with my stolen child through the front door. It’s a rule; I’m a rule follower.
There are some new parent-child pairs that I can only assume didn’t know this was a rule. We happened to be trying Ollie’s entire store of patience behind a new walker and her dad down the stairs, and when they went out the forbidden door, Ollie would not accept that we were not going to follow out that door. He handled this by laying on the floor and being sad. I am trying every calm, controlled way to address this situation from telling him it’s ok to be disappointed and angry to bribing him with French fries and cookies if he will just stop throwing a fit in the middle of the hallway.
I’m going to take a minute to address how very difficult it is to bend down and pick up my son from the floor. First, imagine that you have inserted a basketball into your lower abdomen and everything that used to live in your lower abdomen has now taken up residence between your lungs and your ribcage. Not scientifically accurate, I know, but that’s what it feels like. Now, imagining that is your body, try bending in half. Have you passed out yet? Now lift a 30lb weight from the floor. This weight has flailing limbs, is set to the hokey pokey’s “and shake it all about” mode, and was also a roman gladiator in a past life. Once you lift this hitting, biting, pinching, head-butting, kicking medicine ball, find a place to carry it. Remember, there’s a basketball in your midsection.
Here I am dreading the inevitable of throwing this human tornado over my shoulder without my uterus falling out. I want to lay on the floor and be sad. A helpful 5 year old approaches from his classroom and offers “Maybe he would be interested to look at our lunchboxes at the end of the hall.” I love these kids. I am about to use the child’s suggestion to draw Ollie down the hall when I am approached by the teacher of the class at the bottom of the stairs. “This area is an extension of our clasroom.”
“I know, I’m trying. Another family just went out the side door and I’m having trouble explaining to Ollie that we can’t go that way.”
“Well this is very disruptive.”
“I know. I am doing the best I can to get him down the hallway.”
“Maybe we need to talk to Sandi about parents using this door.”
How that 5 year old learned compassion and problem solving from this particular teacher is beyond me. Maybe she was having a bad day; I assure you I was having a worse one. At this point I’m crying again. I respond with a choked up and not wholly polite “OK.” while hoisting my flailing sack of potatoes up onto my shoulder in just the right position that he can’t damage any of my vital organs. I rush him down the hallway, tears streaming, grateful to open the hall door to an empty lobby area. Or I thought it was empty, there was another teacher and another mom chatting by the door while her darling child sat quietly and patiently on the foor. In the friendly nature of 99% of the people I have encountered at O’s school, they greeted me and asked how I was.
I think I sounded like an ogre as I barely grunted out a “I’m fine, thanks.” I pushed past them, pushed the door open more violently than an adult ought to at a preschool, set Ollie on the sidewalk and barked “GO.” When he didn’t, I took a safe ten paces away from him, back turned, facing the paring lot in case he chose this moment to run toward danger. He sobbed, I sobbed. At least this useless mother and her out of control child weren’t disrupting anything anymore.
This other teacher (and mom of a toddler) came out, scooped up my son, and talked to him about the trees, the cars, and the snow while I calmed down. My sister relieved her and I sat on a nearby bench and let it all fly. Sandi carried Ollie all the way to the car, a feat my body can’t even manage right now, and helped me get him settled to go. I cried most of the way home wondering if I am fit to parent this strong willed child, if I could or would even want to handle finishing my Montessori training and doing this for a living, and wishing the urge to go back to working outside the home wouldn’t keep building up as my pregnancy speeds toward my due date. I reached no conclusions.
I’m not feeling much better as I sit and listen to the monitor as my child destroys his room instead of napping. I’m tired, my head hurts from crying, and I’m dreading the next decade and a half of battles to set and uphold boundaries with a kid I know will test every single one. All I want to do is let him be the kid that likes to dance around in the middle of the rug at circle time.