Last night i went to bed with a pit in my stomach. By the morning, that pit had grown into a tree of guilt bearing massive fruit of anxiety.
This morning was Cy’s first day at daycare (from herein referred to as ‘school’). And it brought with it painful flashbacks of my very own: my very first day at school in Canada. I had arrived in Toronto only 2 weeks prior and it was only a matter of time before my parents enrolled me in school. I didn’t speak a lick of english, and was completely unfamiliar with school as we know it here in Canada (in poland i had to wear not only a uniform, but an apron for god’s sake!). It was going to be a whole new world. And I wasn’t feeling particularly brave about it.
I will never forget that day: my mom had walked me over, and promising to pick me up at the end of the day, she escorted me to my classroom where she handed me off to my teacher, Mrs. Smith (yes, that was actually her name). Mrs. Smith was kind, and sweet and reassuring. At least I think she was, because I had no idea what the hell she was saying. But she was a soothing vision in a pastel peach dress and alone with her I felt like things were going to be ok. I waved my mom good bye and sat quietly at my desk while Mrs. Smith went outside to collect the rest of the students. But the moment she left, I panicked. I was suddenly struck with such incredible fear and anxiety – what will the kids think of me, what if i don’t understand what they’re saying? What if they make fun of my boy haircut? Or worse yet, my pink jogging pants with tapered elastic bands at the ankles?! I couldn’t face them and I just wanted to crawl somewhere and disappear. So i did just that…I disappeared. Well, I ran out of the classroom, out of the building, down the street, and the entire 2.5 blocks home, bursting into a full blown hyperventilating panic attack into the waiting arms of my mommy. I swore I would never go back.
Sure enough, my mom walked me right back to school that very same afternoon. and I had to face everybody, boy haircut, pink jogging pants and all, with an added dose of humiliation. And I was right. the kids made fun of me. They made fun of my haircut. They made fun of my jogging pants. And they made fun of my accent.
Because kids are cruel. And school is a scary, scary world. I was 9 years old when this happened.
Little Cy-guy is only 2.
So you can understand my concern. My fear. My anxiety. Here I was, sacrificing my little lamb to wolves dressed as children. Willingly.
I went through this emotional roller-coaster once already when I abandoned him by leaving him with my nanny. But at least then, he was in familiar surroundings: his house. His bed. His toys. There was a sense of familiarity I had hoped was reassuring. This time, everything was new.
Cy took it in stride. at least at first. Dust and I both went in with him in the morning, and although he was shy and not particularly into eating breakfast with the rest of the kids, he was distracted enough by all the new toys that he didn’t notice Dust leaving. I lingered for 20 minutes more before quietly sneaking out when his back was turned.
Sure enough, as I was shutting the classroom door behind me I caught a glimpse of a panic-stricken Cy desperately running for the door, his gut-wrenching wail echoing in my ears and my heart shattering into a million pieces as I shamefully tip-toed away, only pausing to brake into tears myself in the privacy of the stairwell before heading to the office.
Cy was visibly upset as I walked in to pick him up too – he didn’t like the food that was being served for lunch, and apparently another boy wasn’t playing nice. As he took a momentary break from his breakdown to look up and see me walking into the classroom, an immediate and welcome look of relief came over his face. He ran into my arms, begging me to take him away. Needless to say, he doesn’t want to go back tomorrow. And as we walked out, the school director warned me: “the second day is always the hardest.”
It’s one thing to be subjected to cruelty yourself. It’s another thing entirely to willingly lead someone else to it.
I. Am. A. Horrible. Mother.