It all started so well. He left pre-school without complaint. He spoke confidently about going to big school. He remained calm the whole way home. He took the clever decision to have a wee before we set off. He marched assuredly up the road. I was filled with pride as my little star seemed to be taking this big school visit in his stride. I mentally scolded myself for thinking the worst of him. It was going to be a breeze.
And then he saw the school building, the children playing outside, the gate we had to walk through. In an instant, the facade crumbled and the banshee boy we all know and love emerged. I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL. I'M NOT GOING IN. I'M NOT. I WANT TO GO HOME. SCHOOL IS STUPID.
Sigh. At the exact same time an angelic looking little girl with long blond ringlets walked calmly past us, holding her mother's hand. I gave the mum a friendly smile, hoping to get a 'hang in there' type of smile in return. I didn't. It was more of a grimmace. She was either one of those been-there-done-that-put-five-kids-through-school-so-far type of mums who quite frankly wasn't interested in making friends or dealing with tantruming children. Or she was a first timer too and was just as anxious to create a good impression and didn't want my son scaring the bejesus out of her child. Or she was just a cow.
Reinforcements arrived in the form of a mum and child we knew. It didn't help sway the screamer though. Then another child arrived and calmly walked in. Meanwhile, my child was still clinging to the fence outside, getting his hands covered in rust as he wailed: I'M NOT GOING IN!
After a huge amount of coaxing and physical manhandling - including two bouts of the headmistress trying to say hello and then promptly saying: 'I'll leave you for a while shall I', I managed to get him indoors. It took the head teacher and I playing with a plastic pirate ship and ringing the doorbell on a toy house before he'd dain to enter the classroom. Meanwhile, the other children were all sitting perfectly still on the carpet on their chalked on names, looking at books. How proud their mums must have been.
The other parents left. Still my child clung. I tried to wear my 'ultra calm, fully in control' expression while cajoling him into sitting with the others. Not a chance. The head teacher, obviously bored of playing pirates by this stage, decided to leave. When I tried to follow suit, more wailing ensued and she instructed me to stay until he settled.
What she doesn't know is that as long as I stay, he will not settle. Ever. I have learnt that the only approach is to be brutal. Dump and go.
So I sat on a tiny chair way too small for my arse and listened to the Ten Tiny Tadpoles. I watched as the children were divided into groups with a range of exciting activities for them to do like trains, waterplay, drawing and traffic management (I assume this was with a pretend car and stop sign rather than directing the actual traffic on the street). It really was time for me to leave as my name wasn't on the board, I hadn't been assigned a group or a fun activity.
I attempted to leave. Cue screaming. I promptly told the teacher that he would continue to do this until he turned 18 and left for uni so we might as well just get cracking and cut the apron strings. It took two teachers to peel him off me and as I strode out of the room, he was being restrained by both of them while he held his arms out saying: 'I WANT A LAST CUDDLE WITH MY MUMMY.'
I ignored and left. Am sure they think I'm a cold bitch. But it's a choice between being that or a soft touch and am never sure which teachers appreciate more.
And in 30 minutes time, I have to go back there and reclaim him. And then we get to repeat this process again next week and the week after that. Then we'll have a nice long summer holiday for him to forget all about it so that come September, he'll be ready to start the screamfest from scratch.
Sigh. I think I shall have a whiskey tonight. On the bright side, at least I won my bet and I get to keep the chocolate cake.