Whose first day is it, really?

Ever since my paternity leave finished, some 3¼ years ago, I’ve become accustomed to leaving the twinkles. Every day, I get up, get ready for work and kiss them both on the forehead before tiptoeing out of their room without waking them up. They’re also used to not having me around, which makes our time together at weekends and holidays so precious.

Tonight is Sunday. They’re tucked up in bed, not a peep out of them since we shut their door after a flurry of blown and caught kisses. Tomorrow, they’ll be woken up early to shovel some breakfast down (hopefully: they’re the slowest eaters ever!) before getting dressed and making the trip down the road to nursery, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!

MuMum and I have been prepping the girls about going to nursery for some time now and we’ve been ramping it up a bit more over the last two weeks. They know what it’s all about, they know that we’re going to drop them off and leave straight away and they know that we’re going to go back to pick them up at the end of the day. What could be more straight forward. After all, we do it every day when I go to work. Don’t we?

Erm, no.

For starters, they don’t get left. They’re either with MuMum, MuMatriarch, or another of our close family. They’ve never been taken anywhere and left without someone who they know and trust. This is going to be a completely different experience for them.

It’s also going to be a completely different experience for MuMum. For 3¼ years she’s been their main protector, teacher, comforter but very soon our precious girls are going to be away from her, not knowing what they’re doing, not knowing what conversations they’re having and not knowing that they’re OK. I’ve taken a couple of days off work, to make sure that the girls are OK, but mainly to make sure that MuMum is OK.

I’m taking this all in my stride of course. I go and do my thing at work every day, MuMum does her thing with the girls every day, so what’s going to be different? Nothing really. So, I’m going to be strong for all three girlies.

Then, last Thursday we had an induction day at nursery. I call it an induction but it was more to complete the admin burden required for these things, rather than any kind of taster sessions. Anyway, I digress. Thursday caught me out; my manly it’ll be OK attitude had blind-sided me into a cruel false sense of security and I found myself feeling quite emotional about this mile-stone that’s crept up on me. I still think they’ll be OK, after they’ve been there for a little while but I think I’m a bit more aware that this is a pretty big deal after all.

I’m pleased that there’s two of them. I’m pleased that this will be another shared experience for them but I hope this won’t be detrimental to their development. The other day, MuMum asked them at breakfast how they were feeling about going to nursery: Miss A revealed that she was scared because she won’t know everyone and Miss E was worried that she’ll have to eat lunch while Miss A stays in a different room. So my hope is that they embrace everything that nursery has to offer without clinging on to each other so tightly that they miss out on friendships and experiences.

I can’t wait to hear all about their first day and at 4pm tomorrow I will. After that, I’ll let you know how my first day was…

I’d spent a great day in town with MuMum. We’d had coffee. Then we’d wandered to a different part of town and had another coffee. The aim was to distract ourselves from the momentous events of the day and in so doing we spent most of the time talking and thinking about what the twinkles were up to.

So leaving to go and pick them up from their first day it felt really strange to be feeling very nervous all of a sudden. They’d gone off so well in the morning but what if they’d had a terrible time immediately after we left. For the rest of the entire day?! My hope was that they’d had such a great time that they’d run towards us at the door, not able to control themselves for the want of telling us all about their day.

As it was, we were met with a completely different and totally unexpected scenario: they’d enjoyed themselves (great!!!) but didn’t want to leave to come home with us (what???). It caught me off guard. I’d mentally prepared myself for the best and worst-case scenario but not this weird half and half situation.

First days don’t always go how you expect…!

Initially I felt like a bit of a fool because I’d not anticipated this outcome but also because they were both refusing to take their pumps off and put their wellies on to go home, all under the watchful eyes of the Head. Quite what he thought the girls’ home life was like if they would rather stay at pre-school than go home, I’m not too sure… So I consoled myself in the belief that this wasn’t the first time, or hopefully the last time, he’d see a fumbling dad on his first day, trying to keep some semblance of order.

Like father, like daughter, it was like pulling teeth trying to get out of them what they’d been up to on their first day. The response was as vague as nothing. MuMatriarch managed to get a better run down of events which I’m pleased about.

MuMum has added a brief footnote to her article this month, so not wishing to be outdone, here’s mine:

I think the reality of nursery has set in for our twinkles now. They seem to realise that it wasn’t a one off, that it’s going to happen again. And again. And probably again next week. Despite all the re-assurances of how much we love them and that we’re not abandoning them, they don’t want to go. I’m back at work now so not doing the drop off and pick up with MuMum. And it’s been tough for her; two screaming little women who desperately don’t want their mum to leave them. And they don’t understand why she does. Their mum who knows, deep down, that they’ll be OK. But can’t reconcile how she can leave her precious cargo, sad and tear stained in the care of someone else when they need their mum so much as they do in that moment.

The girls will get used to going, they’ll get used to not being with their mum. They’ll get used to making new friends. But it’s MuMum who won’t get used to her babies going off into the very controlled, (not quite so) big bad world. So I’ll continue my job as MuMan: looking after MuMum by letting her know that she’s the best mum, re-assuring her that her twinkles do love her (regardless of what their inarticulate feelings actually say to her) and taking time out of my day to check that she’s OK and to let her know that I’m thinking about her.

These are tough and unchartered times, for our little family at least.


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