Those of you who have followed the blog for a while will know that Monkey isn’t a sports fan, and that his swimming lessons turned into a nightmare for all concerned. He’s very shy and has no interest in taking part in the after school clubs on offer, but I really think Monkey would benefit from doing something with other children that wasn’t classroom based. As an only child I’m painfully aware that as soon as school is over, Monkey is alone. I know he’s with me, and he’s very good at playing by himself, but I think he could really benefit from being part of something. So when I discovered that there was a local Scouting group, I put his name on the waiting list. I thought we’d be waiting months for a call, so I’d have plenty of time to talk it through with Monkey. Wrong! A couple of weeks after my initial email, I received a call on Saturday. We have a place available, Monkey can have first session at Beavers on Monday. Wow, ok, we’ll take it.
I then explained that Monkey gets quite anxious in new environments and would need to be helped to leave me. Ok, well you can stay but we do prefer it for parents to leave. Yes, I’d like to leave too, but it’s not always that easy. The swimming lesson saga is still etched on my memory.
So we were all set for Monkey’s first session at Beavers, we talked about it and a friend helped me connect with other children he would know from school. Mostly girls – how lucky it he! Then I tackled the subject of me not staying for the whole session, every session. I’m not going then. But Monkey, honestly, you will have lots of fun and you won’t want me there. No I am not going without you. Oh joy! I know the wife of one of the helpers and she was aware of how Monkey deals with things, so I was hopeful that this was being fed back to the Beavers team. I wasn’t looking for special treatment, but I knew if Beavers was going to work for Monkey, he’d need a little help getting used to it.
So on Monday, we had the whole first day back at school thing to deal with, then a rush to his dental check up, home for a quick dinner, before we’d walk to Beavers. I have to be frank, I felt stressed out all day. I was so worried about how he would react. Was I being an awful mother for putting him in that situation? I should be listening to him. But in my heart I believed that Beavers would be a really good thing for him. He’d be with a mixed group of children around his age and he’d be learning whilst having fun. The experience would teach him so much about being part of a team, sharing and communicating. All areas that he could do with working on. It would help him believe in himself more and try new things with the help of his peers. Yes, I had to give it a go, we had to try. Although there was a little voice telling me that I should remember how much I hated it when my Mum sent me to Brownies. But that had more to do with the fact I’d really wanted to go to Ballet!
So, with my stomach churning, I told Monkey that I would stay for a bit, but I’d need to leave after a while so I could go and buy him a chocolate treat. But that he’d be having so much fun he wouldn’t even miss me and I’d be back before he knew it. I know, bribery isn’t ideal, but I’m not a ‘perfect mother’ and I needed some leverage to get him to try his Beavers session. It was very much a case of needs must. So I’m not going to beat myself up over the promise of a bit of chocolate.
We arrived at the hall, the one he knew well from his pre-school days and promptly met two other boys who were having their first session too. Yes, the Mum’s looked as nervous as I did too. It also turned out that we knew one Mum/son for a baby course we’d done. The boys had grown somewhat in the last 4 years!
What I hadn’t appreciated was that the Cubs group would be in the same place, so before the session started there were lots of older children in the hall and a lot of noise. I could feel Monkey getting more and more agitated. He went totally mute and wouldn’t talk to any of the girls he knew from school. He was clinging to me, oh dear, what have I done?
It soon became clear that the Beavers and Cubs would separate and go to different rooms. I’d fully expected to go with Monkey, but Penguin, one of the helpers came over to us. Is this Monkey? Yes, he’s rather shy and a bit overwhelmed. She took his hand and told him there were lots of activities to do in the other room and led him away. There was a moment where he looked back and I said, I’m off to get that chocolate, and they were gone.
Chocolate purchased, I walked home and spent the next 40 minutes with my stomach still churning. I hadn’t had a phone call, so it can’t have gone too badly. Could it? Out he came looking rather sheepish. Quick look said it didn’t look like he’d been crying. Phew. Coat on, chocolate provided. The flood gates opened. Mummy I can have a scarf and a top and how many badges did you get in Brownies and we did this, and that, and something with a parachute that I still don’t fully understand. So, Monkey, you enjoyed it. Yes Mummy, it was fun.
OMG! Monkey, that is wonderful, didn’t I say you’d enjoy it. Of course I think some of this new found enthusiasm is linked to having a later bedtime on a Monday as the session doesn’t finish until 7pm. I’d recorded a couple of his favourite Tiny Pop shows and he watched them, whilst drinking his milk before bed.
Mummy I had a lovely time. I love you. I love you too Monkey, and I’m very proud of you.
Can I have my scarf next week at Beavers Mummy, no Monkey not next week, but in a few weeks time. Ok.
Wow, wow! Honestly, I spent the rest of the evening on a cloud of happiness. For Monkey to go to something new, try it, stay there, without me, enjoy it and want to go again. Has that ever happened before? No! Never. Relief, huge relief and immense pride in a little boy who struggles with things that most other children seem to relish. I really hope that this is the start of a wonderful adventure for Monkey, an adventure that he takes with others and without me. He needs that time to develop with his peers in an environment that isn’t governed by spellings, reading and maths and the dreaded PE. Of course, I’m sure that elements of all of these will come into play at some point or another.
My funny little boy is changing and growing so fast. Turning 6, being in a mixed year 1/2 class have seen Monkey’s confidence growing. It’s wonderful to watch. I’m under no illusion, I’m sure I’ll need Penguin’s help again in the weeks ahead, but I’m hoping he’s seeing that he can have a good time and not have me ever present.
We bring our children into this world and spend the next xxxx years preparing them to fly from the nest and soar up high above us. It’s hard work, it’s harder than I’d ever imagined and I’m only 6 years in, but it’s at times like this that the whole experience is just so wonderful. The thought of all that Monkey can be is just mind blowing, he is taking lots of little steps, like a friend of mine who’s finding her way in life. Little steps, all add up. They make a difference.
So think of us next Monday at 6pm as Monkey goes to his second session at Beavers. Let’s hope he has just as much fun.