I probably shouldn't tempt fate with this post incase I jinx it but… *whispers* my three-year-old seems to have finally conquered her fear of going to nursery.
I've written about being the mum whose kid won't settle at nursery and every word was painfully true at the time. While the true extent of the stress of those nursery-hating days are already fading into a dim and distant memory (thank goodness), I know that it was pretty much the toughest thing I've encountered in three years of parenting my daughter.
That first day that she howled and tried her darnedest to escape the clutches of her unsuspecting teacher, I spent the entire 'settling in period' howling too, albeit in the nursery car park.
But almost four weeks into the new normal that is our daily nursery routine, my daughter is finally skipping through the door without a backwards glance. I thought this day would never come.
Well, partly, I think she's just grown in confidence and come to accept that we're not trying to palm her off onto the nursery staff on a full-time permanent basis. The way her face lights up when she sees me standing at the nursery door at pick-up time persuades me that she's simply got to grips with the fact that she isn't going to be abandoned at nursery for good.
But what really helped my daughter settle at nursery was a strange little trick that I didn't actually put any thought in to - which is ironic, really, given that I've spent a good chunk of the past three weeks googling 'How to get a three year old child to settle at nursery'. I've tried every tip and trick I've found, but this one just came to me – almost as an after-thought – as we were getting ready for nursery one morning.
Whilst helping my daughter get dressed, I planted a big kiss on her tummy and made a big game of 'trapping' it safely underneath her vest. We talked about how she could keep that kiss with her all day long and carry it around inside her vest without anybody knowing it was there, and how, in a way, that would mean she had a piece of me right by her side all day at nursery.
Now I'm no developmental expert so I can't explain why she seemed so soothed by that. Suffice it to say that something just seemed to click for my daughter that morning. It was as if she grew a little in confidence right before my eyes, assured of my love and commitment to her at a time that her growing brain just naturally seemed to be calling that into question.
On our way through the nursery doors I joked about how tomorrow I could hide a kiss in her coat pocket, or one inside her sock. She laughed uproariously and then sauntered through the nursery door, pausing only to give me a knowing look as she patted the kiss tucked safely inside her vest.
Every day since then I've had to hide a kiss somewhere about her person, of course but - touch wood - we haven't yet had tears at nursery drop-off.
Having a little physical connection to me that she doesn't need to explain, justify or worry about having taken off seems to have given her wings. And as the saying goes, our job as parents is to give our kids roots and wings. I think her roots ran so deep that they held her back from throwing herself whole-heartedly into starting nursery school and now she's got a daily dose of wings to balance those roots, she is quite literally ready to fly. Watch out, world.
And yes, as much as I have longed for her to settle into nursery without crying every morning, I'll admit that I still shed a tear or two that first day she sailed through that door without needing me quite so much. So if you're still in the throes of screaming at the nursery door, take comfort in the fact that these days will eventually pass. And remind yourself that, against all odds, you'll actually miss them just a teeny tiny bit.