Letting Go: When My Toddler Started School

By Piyushi Dhir

Knowing that his 5 year old neighbour-friend goes to school gave my 2 year old much curiosity about this haloed institution that he could not yet attend. This was a year ago.

When his turn finally came to start pre-school, he started with all the enthusiasm of a kid who had been handed a new toy. A new school bag was purchased, a leak-proof water bottle was identified and a snack box was arranged. Every single piece of clothing and footwear was labelled with his name.

The first day at school was remarkably easy. I was relieved when he didn’t bawl or cry and walked in quite jauntily without a care when we left.

The peace did not last beyond that.

Ready for School

After the first day at school, he realized exactly what it meant. Not that it was horrible or that he was tortured. But he realized that it involved his parents going away and his being among new people on his own. Then came those tough, never-ending days of emotional farewells in the mornings, when he did bawl and cry.

We discovered that my husband did a better job at dropping off our boy at school, because I merely turned into a helpless mess when I saw my baby reach out to me with trembling lips.

Fortunately, as unlikely as it seemed, he did eventually settle into school. We only send him three days a week, for three hours each, but he learns so much!

Yes, he learns some things I wish he didn’t- like biting himself in anger, or jumping off the highest stool in the house because ‘Jaguar’, his friend at school, does so. But he also learns some things that make me proud- like identifying alphabets and numbers, some basic writing and some beautiful crafts that I hang up on the wall.

Identifying Alphabets

And then there are things he learns that are quite amusing- his newly developed Canadian accent and Canadian vocabulary for instance. It didn’t take long for Mumma and Papa to become Mommy and Daddy. He also has this new realization of how boys and girls are different. “Boys wear hoodies, Mommy,” he explains, when he stopped wearing his winter cap. He has also developed this particular style of ‘macho’ walking, which he explains is how “boys walk”.

Since my husband does the dropping-off, picking up is often my duty. On the drive back, I love quizzing my boy about what happened in school. If he isn’t in a mood to talk, I just end up asking a series of questions and receiving monosyllabic answers. But if he is a mood to share, I hungrily gather titbits of information about his day.

Initially, it bothered me no end that there were 3 hours in the day of my son’s life that I knew nothing about. Slowly, I have learnt to let go. To accept that he is growing up and there will be more and more about him that I will know less and less of.

Sometimes, when he is busy chattering away, explaining something in his toddler-talk, I gaze at him wishing I could freeze time now. The moment seems so perfect that I never want him to grow up into a man, keeping him as cute and innocent as he is now.

But I know at the same time that I am blessed to have this moment. And that I have to live in it, capture it in my memory and then let it go…


About the Author

Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.