Thursday, 1 March 2012
I have just left Snooks, standing at the window of his school room, a forlorn Dalek, mouthing “I will miss you mummy,” as I backed away towards the gate.
By the time I reached home I was tearful and nauseous. Is it supposed to be this hard?
The day began with a reluctant playdate – reluctant on my part because playdates have become fraught encounters with other boys where they pummel, bite and punch Snooks as he pushes, torments and teases them. Either way, it is exhausting. Snooks had been off school for two days which meant hanging out with me, shopping, a bit of football in the garden, a few rows. He loves it more than anything – more than school, more than friends, more than ice cream, more than everything else. So a playdate did not compare. We went anyway and half the time they played and half the time I refereed.
Then came school and World Book Day which I had hoped would be a bright spot but instead brought about the nauseous tearful drive home which almost finished me off.
Snooks did not want to go. He was “too sick”. He lay on the floor. He did not want to wear his Dalek costume. He did not want me to come and then leave. He never wanted to go to school again. He never wanted to leave me again.
The school he attends had said that the children could dress as a character from a book and bring mums in for half an hour at the start to read with them. It sounded good in theory. But like Snooks I could see the pitfalls. What if the costume was rubbish? And how could he let me go once I was in the building?
I persuaded him with the help of a chocolate coin and the plan that we would carry the costume in a bag until we got there and saw what was what.
So far so good. Once inside the gates having spotted Snow White, Dorothy and Buzz Lightyear (???) he agreed to put on the main bit which has fabulous silver circles and two antennae for firing Dalek-style lasers which are velcroed to the front. The hat was out of the question, understandably. By the way in case you are wondering, a character in Dogger dresses as a Dalek. Snooks had done a double whammy on the dress up idea. He wanted to dress up as a character who dresses up.
Once inside the classroom I got a glimpse of my daily dread – Snooks quiet and circumspect, unsure how to join in with his friends and frozen in terror when the big loud boy made fun of his antennae. Snooks ripped them off and shoved them into my bag when no one was looking.
“Just ignore him,” I whispered as we sat down to read. “What is he dressed as anyway? I can’t even tell,” I said trying waspish camp as a defence, which half worked.
As I read to him along with the other mothers and their children, he curled his little frame into me and rested his head on my arm. I looked around. The other children looked so much older, so much easier with this set up. They wandered around talking to each other, they sat in groups, they half listened as their mothers read and then skipped off to play.
Other mums started to get their coats and the children milled around the toys. The teacher indicated silently to me that it was time to go. Summoning up the best breezy cheer I can do I started to move.
“Bye mum,” Snooks announced, getting up and walking slowly away without looking back. I thought I had it cracked. Perhaps he was happy here after all. Once I go he will join in with the fracas, I told myself.
And then I saw him standing at that window.