It happened all of a sudden, I suppose. One day we were settled into a routine of school with DD and creche with DS and cramming in something resembling paid work and everything else in between. The next day, that all turned on it’s head. He was off to maternelle!
best laid plans
My plan for 2019 was to start easing DS into maternelle. He’s three this year, which means he’s required to be registered at school. I always planned for him to start when he was three but had this idea that he’d do two half days at maternelle and continue at creche for the other two days. But DS had other ideas!
He’s been saying he wants to go to school for a while. With his sister. He cries when she goes off in the morning. Then in the car, his morning mantra of, “not creche?” repeated over and over until we park up outside creche. A sadder face you never did see. More than once I’ve wondered what a cold heart I must have to leave him there, crying into the arms of one of the creche staff. Is work really so important?
There are all sorts of rational justifications for leaving him there of course. But the most compelling one was always that, if my conscience got the better of me and I called them up after an hour of worrying, he was always fine, having a great time, and he would always trot up smiling when we went to collect him, having eaten all his lunch, sometimes with second helpings. Always a bonne matinee once those first two or three traumatic minutes had passed.
the easy bit
Having decided we’d start phasing him into maternelle in the new year, we’d registered him at the end of December. Registration was even easier than with DD because they already had a file for us. For DS all we needed was his ID, so his passport, and his vaccination records. Nothing to sign, no forms to fill out. After that we just had to confirm the date with the directriece, and we were good to go. Plus insurance (all children who go to school are required to have some level of insurance cover.)
the hard bit
It was nerve-wracking sending him off to maternelle that first day. The “big ones” run around the small playground without any regard for the little ones. The teachers stand and chat. Plus, it turns out, that DD, as a big sister is a bit of a chocolate teapot and is more than happy to leave him standing there on his own. That first day though he was excited and just went off hand in hand with DS. Same on the second day. We picked him up after just an hour and a half and he wanted to stay. Great!
Then came the scheduled two days at creche. Having spent two days at school and loving it, he was in a total state over creche. This was understandable, I suppose, given he’s one of the “big ones” there, and is generally happier now playing with his big sister, which involves a whole lot of talking and general argie-bargie (if that’s a word.) He really, really didn’t want to go, so we gave him the choice: school or creche. He chose school. With that we finished our last two days and that was that – no more creche.
Obviously then things took a little turn. DD totally lost interest in being a big sister, at least on arrival, so he spent a few days getting very upset. But he also said, when we picked him up, that he wanted to stay for lunch so, after a full week of half days, the next thing was booking him in for lunch.
That meant another milestone: an afternoon nap without me! Eeek!! I was so worried. And that hasn’t gone so well. He’s not napping. But sometimes he doesn’t nap at home when there’s interesting stuff going on and I would imagine he’s not keen on missing out there. Luckily, he’s a pretty easy going child even when tired; he gets silly, not stroppy (the other one does stroppy and then some!) so even without naps he’s had some perfectly nice afternoons and also stayed awake in the car on the way home.
So there we have it. Creche came to a stop just like that. My plans for phasing him into school gradually were scuppered by DS himself. And now he’s off to maternelle – and he loves it!