Joseph has been at the same nursery since M went back to work when he was 6 months old. He is now 3 and a half so you don't need me to tell you that he has been going for 3 years. In that time, he has enjoyed pretty much every minute. At the weekends he asks if today is "a nursery day" and looks a little disappointed when we tell him it isn't, that today is in fact an "all together day".
Anyways, last week we were coming into the nursery and we saw another little boy - younger than Joseph - sobbing in his Dads arms, refusing to go inside (apparently, he hadn't seen a black taxi on the way and wouldn't go until he'd seen one - Lord knows where they were going to find one on the nurserys street!!).
Joseph stood and watched him crying for a moment and then we went in - I didn't give it any more thought.
The next day?
Joseph doesn't want me to go! He won't let me leave his room, even though most of his usual friends were there, his cereal bowl was full of his favourite cereal and he had his beloved plate of fresh fruit by his side - nope, I couldn't go.
Luckily, the one missing friend turned up and then I was released from his hand clutching the cuff of my jacket. "Bye Joseph" I called from the doorway, but as far as he was concerned, I'd already gone, his attention back to the racing car his friend had brought in.
Then it was the weekend and we all forget about it as it was so out of character for him.
Monday morning - same thing only worse. Hysterics, "don't go Dad", holding onto my leg and crying. Sheesh... what to do?
Yesterday, more of the same, upset, won't let me go out of the room etc. What with this plus the miserable weather equals no post yesterday - I was glum - I'm sure it wouldn't have been pretty reading!
So last night we talk about it, try to find out what's going on and we kind of get to the bottom of it - he doesn't want to have a midday sleep anymore when the other children are playing. Ok.
So this morning we all carry on as if all is normal and we get to nursery and I talk to the Manager and it's all looking good and I leave and ........... I hear little footsteps coming up the corridor after me.
I turn and see him, running awkwardly, arms by his sides, biting his lower lip, not wanting to cry again but struggling (like me now). I crouch down and he runs full pelt into me, nearly knocking me over. He whispers, "don't go" and I pat him on the back, stand up and try to make the mood lighter. I ruffle his hair and say, "race you to your cornflakes". We go in. I leave. He follows. Then, another child (with some prompting from his mother), comes up the corridor and stretches out his hand to Joseph, silently. It is a lovely moment. Joseph takes the offered hand and together they walk back, innocently, as only children can be and take their respective seats at the breakfast table.
I think it's all over but we have one more episode before I am able to slip out unnoticed.
I get outside and take a deep breath. I feel I'm being sneaky, leaving him under false pretences and that when he notices I'm not there, when he turns to look at me for reassurance, he'll perhaps remember that I just left him.
I remember putting my Dad through similar when I was at primary school - I guess I was 7 or 8 years old - and although I clearly remember being upset at being left with a teacher I hated, I can't ever remember thinking "oh no, my Dad's leaving me here".
Hopefully Josephs experience will be the same. Or better of course.
I hope so. It's a rotten start to your day.
Let's see how tomorrow goes I guess.