A very long time ago, I had a cute little boy. He was such fun with his quirky little sense of humour and big ideas.
His favourite thing was to pretend to be Superman. I would tie a tea towel around his shoulders and then use sticky tape to make the Superman curl flat on his forehead. That was all it took for his imagination to kick in and he was the Man of Steel.
It was lovely to spend my days with him. We would read books together, play games and dance and sing together. We would cook together and we would chat. Life with my little boy was relaxed and we ran to our own schedule.
He was so excited to be heading off to a whole new world of Pre School. I bought him special shorts to wear. We went to the barber for a new haircut. We chose special sandals for growing feet and a little backpack for his fruit.
We talked about the things he would do, the things he would learn and all the new friends he would find at Pre School. We discussed how we had to arrive on time each day. We would have to be organised and have everything ready the day before. We talked about how some kids could feel nervous and that we must be kind to them.
Then, it all began.
We arrived at the gate and found lots of other little kids all waiting to start their first day too. There was excited chatter amongst the kids as they waited for the Pre School Teacher to open the door to invite them all in to their first day.
My little boy stood with me watching the action and listening to the conversations. He looked confident and happy.
I realised that this was the last day that I would be his only influence. I realised that the way the Teacher treated him would affect the way he saw himself. I began to worry that the other kids might be mean to him or exclude him. I remember standing there amongst the children’s noisiness thinking that we still had time to make a run for it and escape from this change maker. I can remember the inner panic as I realised that life for my little boy would never be the same.
The door of the Pre School opened and the smiling face of the Teacher appeared. There was a happy buzz amongst the crowd as they all moved forward to go inside. We were caught in the flow of kids and mothers and backpacks.
I stood and listened as the Teacher organised all the kids onto a padded mat on the floor. My little boy was a very willing little participant. He sat listening carefully as she explained what they would be doing today.
The other Mothers and I left the building. She must have told us to go, but I don’t remember. I only remember my little boy’s casual wave and dismissive smile as I left. He was a happy and confident little boy. I had done my job.
I cried all the way home.
It was as if the system had stolen my child. Influences that I may not approve of were now going to change him for ever.
My baby was no longer my baby. He was a little person with a sharp little mind. He had accepted the challenge of Pre School with an open heart. A new phase of his life was beginning and I had a giant hole in my heart.
But that’s life isn’t it? Children grow and change and enter new phases of their lives whether you are ready or not.
The important thing is that we prepare and guide them so that they can grow and expand with confidence in themselves. High self esteem is what makes them compassionate and generous human beings who add value to others.
And compassionate and generous people change the world.