I’m normally always considering the worst, always worrying about what might happen. On Monday I wasn’t thinking like that at all. First full week back at school and yes I was dreading that. Dreading the meltdowns and general grumpiness that that will bring, but I was just going with the flow. I’d come up with an idea to make Monkey’s times tables homework more fun and it was working. Everything was good, and then it wasn’t. Monday was the evening when Cubs didn’t quite go to plan. When I didn’t think ahead, when I didn’t foresee a potential problem, when I failed, when it all went horribly wrong.
Monkey became a Cub at the end of last year, but with Christmas activities and then the holidays, his first full session with them was on Monday night. I’d been prepared for transition issues when he had his taster sessions, but those had all gone fairly smoothly, his investiture had gone ok. I didn’t think, I just didn’t think, that a full on, first full session on the start of the first full week back at school was going to be an issue. How stupid could I be. This is my son, the son that doesn’t really cope with change particularly well. I didn’t do any of the things I’d usually do. Didn’t spend time talking through with him what would be happening on Monday.
I just didn’t think about the fact he’s tired, he’s not going to bed easily these days, the holidays have totally screwed up his bedtime routine. He’s been going up at the normal time, but then still being awake way past 9pm. That was fine during the holidays when he could lie in til gone 8.30am, not so fine when he has to be up to face a school day by 7.30am at the latest.
He’d been messing around at dinnertime which meant we were running late. When Cubs didn’t quite go to plan all started then. Trying to get him out of his school uniform and into his Cubs uniform. Total meltdown, tears, screaming, clinging on, sobbing, you name it, we had it. Within seconds I was transported back to pre-school and early school days and all the trials and tribulations I faced trying to get him to leave me and go into his class or session. What was I doing? Cubs was meant to be a fun, after school activity. I felt like the worst mother in world on Monday evening. Why was I putting my son through this emotional turmoil, for something that wasn’t compulsory. I could see his Dad looking at the scene, wondering the same thing, although I don’t think he’d have dared say it out loud.
However hard it was at the time, I stepped back and looked at that face, with tears rolling down his face and saw that they weren’t full on upset tears, but the kind of tears to get my attention. to push buttons. A face that looked tired, a face that I’ve seen a million times before. So I told him that if he didn’t want to go to Cubs, then he’d have to come with me and tell Akela himself. But that we could also tell her, that he was feeling a bit overwhelmed and might need a helping hand. He was less than impressed with this idea, but both his Dad and I told him that he couldn’t just not turn up. That wasn’t an option, we had to go and face the music so to speak.
We live a few minutes walk away from the hall, but just getting him there was a challenge, when we arrived of course, pretty much everyone else was there. Not a good thing. We are not staying! Ok, but we have to tell Akela. She was great, I told her Monkey was having a major wobble and she could see I was very close to tears myself. She took us away from everyone else and tried to talk to Monkey about his fears. Of course he was having non of that. He hid his head and I was left to explain how he felt and his issues with change. Thankfully she took it all in and suggested we just stand on the sidelines and watch for a bit.
Then another leader approached us and suggested we come and watch some of the board games being played. Ok, I am not taking my coat off, Mummy you are not leaving. Ok. So we watched for a while, watched different groups playing different games and eventually another leader coaxed him into helping him take his turn. He let go of my hand, coat still on, and joined in, he actual spoke too. I edged away a little. Then he was asked if he’d like to play Guess Who with me against one of the leaders. Ok. Shall we take your coat off? Ok. We played the game, he talked and asked questions and then said Mummy, this is fun. You see, Monkey, I knew it would be. Would you like me to pay in your tuck money so you can have a treat later? Yes please.
Then Akela gave him his new woggle, it was red, his favourite colour. Result. A smile appeared. Could Mummy just go to the shop and come back with Buff (his worry eater) in a little bit? Ok. Result. Forty minutes after the session started.
Akela and I had a talk about Monkey and how he copes or more often doesn’t cope with things. She said we’d work through the next few weeks together and see how things progress. I know he’ll enjoy Cubs, I know he’s happy when I’m not there. It’s been proven so many times before over the years. It’s better if I can leave him as soon as possible, it’s better for him and yes, it’s better for me.
Once again I found myself walking down the same path I’ve walked every day since we started pre-school aged 2 and half. Once again I was crying as I walked home, feeling like the worst mother in the world. Wishing my son found letting me go just a little bit easier. Wishing he could cope with change just a little bit better. Wishing I’d blooming well thought this might have happened and handled the whole day differently.
I was soon back at the hall for pick up time, and out him came, not full of smiles, but ok. He chatted on the walk home and told me he’d had fun. Relief. I’d hoped he’d be as drained as I was and would go to sleep quickly when he went to bed, but no such luck. The week will be a tricky one with an overtired child, that’s for sure.
When Cubs didn’t quite go to plan I was left feeling totally drained, emotionally and physically. Questioning my parenting. Should I have made him go on Monday night? If I hadn’t I knew that that would have been it, I’d have set a president and he wouldn’t have gone back. Back to an activity that he actually enjoys. I think it’s a good thing for him to do one after school activity. He’s not into sports and that’s ok, he’s going to take after his Dad in that respect. But he’s an only child, he doesn’t have the sibling companionship that I took for granted with my brother. He’s very shy and very attached to me. Of course it’s lovely that he loves me so much he doesn’t want to leave me, not even for an hour and a half, but it’s not the best thing for him. I know that. As an older Mum, I know that sooner than most, he’ll have to face life without me probably. It’s the reality of life. Yes it would be so much easier at the moment of a meltdown, to just give in to it, batten down the hatches, cuddle up on the sofa and forget the world outside. But that won’t help my son in the long run, it won’t do him any good.
I didn’t sleep Monday night, worrying about how he’d be the next morning. Would he wake up hating me for making him go to Cubs the night before. Would he feel I’d betrayed him and not listened to him. If I’m honest, that’s how I was feeling, pretty blooming rubbish, as a parent and a human being. But of course, he woke up and it was as if the night before had never happened. He was fine, it was forgotten, it was a relief but it’s left me totally drained. Stupidly, I’d thought we left the days of having him peeled off me behind. I’d thought we’d ticked that stage off, we’d paid our dues, we’d paid more than most, it was done, we were past it. I was wrong. It bit me on the bum on Monday night, I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t prepared, I certainly wasn’t strong.
So now I’m left wondering what will happen next week. Do I need to find some extra resilience from somewhere, some extra strength that right now, I honestly don’t think I have. I’m really hoping that next week will, at least, be easier. Who knows. I probably should do by now, but I don’t. Just when I think I’ve got my son sussed, he proves me wrong, again. Good job I love him isn’t it. Forever and always.