13, 2003 - Thursday
Jeremy's baby-sitter has regrettably asked that we make alternative daycare arrangements for Tuesdays and the first logical choice is Harry's "school, which luckily has a two-day per week opening in the a Toddler room on Tuesdays and Fridays. So, when she, Mary, also needed today off to address the instigating potential health issues, I took Jeremy to school for a test morning visit. Unfortunately, I seem to have made a gross miscalculation by telling Harry about it last night.
Harry seems to like his school, being there and playing there, and I would have thought that my being down the hall with his little brother would have been a fun distraction, with Harry joyfully coming to visit between his own activities in the preschool room. It did not work out that way. Instead, he insisted on staying with Jeremy and me in the toddler room, even though he was amid toys and toddlers that were essentially too low and slow for his honest amusement. I thought it was fine for a while, but after about 45 minutes I tried to bring Harry back to Preschool. He'd have none of it, standing in the doorway of the Preschool room crying and whining about wanting to go to the Toddler room with me and Jeremy. I tried again as Preschool's daily "morning meeting" time approached some 45 more minutes after that, thinking that getting him involved with the group might be a way for Jeremy to spend some time at the school on his own. That was a disaster.
The building had scheduled a fire drill for ten minutes from
then and as I sat down in the Preschool circle with Harry and his classmates,
his teacher was just explaining about the fire drill. They've had them before,
but for whatever reason - misunderstanding, being disoriented by the abnormal
events of the morning, simply my being there - Harry freaked out, starting
to cry uncontrollably and inconsolably to the point that I thought I'd better
pick him up and move away from the group. Of course, Harry offered only false
explanations of his trouble - saying his was sick and wanted to go home, that
he had to poop (although, after the fact his teacher correctly pointed out
that those my have been genuine symptoms of true fear) - and I took it as
whining about wanting to go back to the Toddler room. Had he said that he
was afraid of the fire drill, I would have understood and, I think, been better
able to work it through with him. Unfortunately, it was only with the sounding
of the fire drill that I started to realize the true anxiety. And, more unfortunately,
when the fire alarm sounded, I was still with Harry in a corner of the Preschool
room, rather than with Jeremy in his unfamiliar surroundings when the strange
loud noises started. Ultimately, Jeremy did better than Harry. I quickly took
Harry down the hall to find Jeremy bundled by the teachers and ready to go
outside, but crying. I picked him up then went outside with both.
Harry's brilliant teacher, having of course witnessed his fallout, eventually came down to the Toddler room after Harry sat for a snack with the youngsters and, remarkably I thought at that point, convinced Harry to join her for water color painting back in Preschool. On his own he finally walked out and down to his room they way I had envisioned it from the start and the next hour and a half passed without great incident. For the last half hour, I was actually outside with Harry's class while Jeremy, easy going boy that he is, went for a walk around the grounds with his prospective classmates and teachers. Then, as lunch time approached, I told Harry that I was taking Jeremy home for lunch, fully expecting that he'd ask to come to. He did and they both took naps until 4:00pm at home, an hour longer than Jeremy would have if I had had to wake him up to go get Harry.