Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Bumps in the Road

This morning I took Emmett to preschool as promised in yesterdays post. As my wife got him dressed, he picked up where he left off yesterday. By the time I had him in his seat, he was full-on crying about not wanting to go.

Anyone who has gone through this with their three-year-old will understand how difficult this is. But, as per Tee's comment, I had a secret weapon.

"Do you want a lollypop?"


"Well, why don't you just hold it for me," I said as I handed it to him, his eyes following the motion like a cats to a ball at the end of a string. He managed to grab it from me without breaking his rythym.

"But I don't want to go to school!"

"What don't you like about school?"

"I don't get to see Kyle b-because he's n-not in my school anymore."

Kyle is still his friend, but since Kyle is a little older, he is in a classroom across the hall from Emmett. "But you see him on the playground, right?"

"Yes, but I don't want to go to school!"

"Do you need help opening that lollypop?"

He got quiet. "I can do it myself."

I heard the wrapper crinkle, so I adjusted the rearview mirror and saw him put the green lollypop in his mouth. Then he muttered almost under his breath. "Don't. Want. To-go. To-school." Little tears had stalled in mid-flight on each cheek.

We chatted for the rest of the trip. Talking about it seemed to calm him down. I think once he really analyzed it, school was about playtime and friends, two of his favorite things next to treats. But as we got closer, he reminded me that he didn't want to go.

"Let's go up together and we'll see what you think," I told him.

"And if I really hate it we can go home?"

I didn't want to lie. If I would have said yes, then technically it wouldn't have been a lie. If he made a big enough fuss, we would go home. If I said yes, then he would hold me to it. So I gave him the answer that most parents come to use far too often.

"We'll see."

Entering the classroom, I gave his teacher a look I cannot describe, but she understood my meaning. Code Red Alert.

She was very sweet, but Emmett went full-out, crying and begging to go home. At this point my resolve almost broke. When I took a step, he took twenty small ones in the same span, holding onto my leg and screaming.

The teacher was good though, this not being her first rodeo. She coaxed him towards the painting easel as I walked a small step behind. Then I leaned over and said in his ear, "I'm going downstairs for a minute, but I'll be right back."

He let me go.

Actually, that was a lie, one that I hope he forgives me for. I didn't go downstairs, and I didn't come right back. I hid on the other side of the door and looked through the crack, though I couldn't see him. He cried for a little while then stopped. Then started up again. I was on the verge when the teacher from across the hall saw what I was doing.

"It's hard, isn't it?" The look on her face was pure empathy.

"I feel like a traitor."

"Is that your boy with the orange shirt?"


"He's in good hands with Miss De Matteo. She's kneeling down and talking to him. He's very close to picking up a paint brush." She looked again. "Oh yeah, he's thinking about it."

On the way home, I stopped at a local country store and bought him a candy snake that he talks about so much. That's what he'll get when his momma picks him up today.

Monday, we do it all over again.

*** Update ***

When I picked him up at school, he was sitting in a circle on a mat with the teacher along with the other children. When he saw me, he hollered "Daddy," jumped up and into my arms.

"Did you have fun?"


I looked at the teacher who told me that it only took five minutes, and he had been happy ever since.

In the car, he told me how much fun he had, then chittered happily all the way home. We'll see how it goes on Monday now. But I think it will be much easier.


Tee said...

That was a little less bumpy :) I'm glad he calmed down and seemed to have a good day.

It's so hard when they cry like that. When mine would cry like that I would let the teacher take over as you did, then I'd walk out the door, go to my car, and burst into tears myself. LOL.

Looks like you may have to go to Costco and get a Halloween size bag of lollipops :D ... I don't promise bribery with junk food is a good parenting technique, but it does work. (Still works on me, too) ;)

BTW - Loved the description of hearing the crinkly wrapper from the front seat. That had to make you grin just a little.

Hoodie said...

My daughter started preschool this year. Fortunately, she loves that kind of thing and barely gives me a glance while waving good-bye.

"We'll See" is my secret weapon, along with a lot of "Hmmms." Must. Stay. Noncommittal.

I very much enjoyed this post.

Jaye Wells said...

I don't know which is harder. The crying in the beginning or later when they run away without hugging you because they have their own little lives. I feel your pain.

magnetbabe said...

You handled it perfectly, dad.

"We'll see" works on husbands, too. ;)

mr. schprock said...

That's so much better than the "shut up you little freak" approach I used to use. Had I only known, all that therapy could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

Oh, lord, these stories bring back memories for me. I hope that Emmett will be okay.

I remember when I was in my 20s and going to college, after two sons were born, I used to drop the middle one off, he was three, at day school. They had a big glass door and he stood there, crying and beating on the door as I drove off to school. It went on all semester. He never gave up. Never.

Great story. Very good writing.

briliantdonkey said...

Sounds like a tough day every parent has to go through at some point. It also sounds like you handled it damn near perfectly. I only wish there were a "I dont wanna go to work" way out. That would be nice


briliantdonkey said...

Btw: I finally managed to start watching Friday night lights thanks to it finally coming out on netflix. GREATTTTTT show thanks for the tip. At least I am pretty sure it was you that recommended it. And "weeds" too as a matter of fact which is a trip. Maybe movie critic is in the cards for you.


The Zombieslayer said...

These teachers are amazing. I am friends with several (and am married to one). If you can simply pass them off, it's all good. They'll work their magic. As good as I am with a Unix box, they're even better with small kids.

The Zombieslayer said...

Scott - you've been tagged.

Beth said...

Aha! I'm glad you walked him in. Oh gosh, it almost broke my heart that you stood and watched him. Scott, that was so truly sweet. I loved it.

Jada's Gigi said...

hooray for dad! It gets easier I promise..well the pre school stuff anyway..then on to more bigger hard stuff..didn't want to get your hopes up

SzélsőFa said...

Sounds like you and Emmett and most importantly, the teacher can handle it.
the 'We'll see' argument is one I use very often.

Although I never lie, my avoiding lies, white lies, and direct agreement when I do not wish to agree with the kid often ends up telling sentences that are hardly understandable. Or messed up.

trinamick said...

Behold the power of a lollipop. I even got one from my PT yesterday. :P

Kathleen said...

My friend Tricia always swore that the Threes were much more Terrible than the Twos. I'm thinking that's what you're experiencing. I think you're doing a damn fine job, BTW. Emmett will be fine and so will you. ;-)

Kathleen said...

Schprockie, as always, made me laugh out loud, as we know perfectly well, he never told DN1 or DN2 to "shut up, you little freak."

Shesawriter said...

My heart is with you, bud. I went through it with all three of my kids and it NEVER gets easy, especially when they give you the look like you're abandoning them.

Toni Anderson said...

Oh boy. I sent my hubby too :) Just for those start up days. It breaks up the cycle somehow. And I've hidden behind doors even though kids love school. Being a parent is really hard.

My son is home today with a bad cough. I'm hoping it doesn't break up the fantastic start we've had to kindy. :(

Toni Anderson said...

PS. I use 'maybe' more than 'we'll see' and then the kids will discuss behind my back what 'maybe' means, as if I'm not there :)

Moni said...

Awe, baby steps, a lollipop and some skillful parenting smooth out the worst of bumps. It's gut wrenching letting them go and letting them grow sometimes. Sounds like you handled it like a champ.

Anonymous said...

That's a cute story, Scott.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

This is why I am not cut out for fatherhood.

I probably would have just told him not to be such a wuss and to grow up - massively inappropriate, considering no-one can actualy control their growth rate.