Starting nursery school can be a bit traumatic for many children. Some cry, some refuse to go in, some have tantrums and some trot along happily. How your child reacts is in my opinion very little to do with you as a parent or even the actual nursery.
In Jonah’s case, he just didn’t want to go but was savvy enough to realise that this was non-negotiable. For 3 mornings a week, he was there come hell or high water. So what did he do? he only thing really in his power, he stopped talking.
This took me by complete surprise. He would talk at home, talk to his friends, talk to his toys but for half a term at nursery, he said nothing. I like to refer to this as his silent protest.
Luckily for us he went to a wonderful Montessori where the teachers work with the individual rather than lumping them all in the same age bracket and questioning why they are not hitting ‘targets’. His silent protest quickly passed but this was the start of discovering some of his other little quirks, like his best friends ‘the hands’.
‘The hands’ were in fact my own hands that Jonah likes to pretend were separate entities. Apparently this is quite common with toddlers but most like to play with adults’ feet. I know this sounds like a strange fetish but when you think of it, it sort of makes sense.
Toddlers spend most of the time playing on the floor and most of their eye line is at people’s legs and feet so it is not that surprising that they hone in on the feet. What apparently is more unusual is for them to react to people’s hands in the same way. So much so that when the area SENCO came for a visit, she was fascinated.
‘The hands’ would give Jonah hours of fun (and me slight repetitive strain injury). He could tell them to jump, do a silly dance, cry, tickle, be excited, laugh or pretty much anything else that I could make them act out. Looking back, I think it is all about control.
When you are 3 years old, the world surely seems pretty crazy. There are a million rules that for many children don’t come naturally. You can run and jump in some places but get told off if you do it in another environment, you can make loud noises sometimes but other times you are told to be quiet.
Your choices, if you have any are incredibly limited and you are made to do lots of things you simple don’t want to. While I believe the majority of children simply accept this, for others, like Jonah, life’s restrictions are suffocating and having some sort of control is imperative.
At the time of writing, Jonah is 5 and three quarters. ‘The hands’ are pretty much a distant memory, now replaced by various cuddly dogs that I make come alive.
For Jonah, I’m sure having this control is a real comfort. He is learning that no matter how much he shouts how many tantrums he has, he can’t control everyone. Teachers, his sister, family, friends – none of us will do things just because he says so, and quite frankly why should we?
But every morning when Jonah scampers into my bed for a cuddle
with a couple of his little cuddly dogs, I’m happy for him to be the master and to control his little ‘pets’ for him. We all want to have a voice and to be heard and for five minutes every morning, Jonah is the king of his castle.