WE drop our kids at school VERY early in the mornings and luckily I’m past the point of feeling guilty about it. Unfortunately my work hours and the traffic don’t allow for an alternative solution so I choose to see it as an extra 1.5 hours of free play for them. There are usually a few kids at Child2’s school so everything is fine. Neither of them know anything different (it’s ALWAYS been our routine) and it doesn’t appear to have affected either of them negatively. Child1 LOVES the fact that he is one of the first kids at school in the morning and gets upset when we drop him even 5 minutes later than the usual time. I think that they have some kind of competition to see who gets there first.
Lately, our drop-off routine for Child 2 has been as follows:
We get out of the car.
I pick up Child2 to ring the bell. He LOVES this and rings it multiple times until we hear the gate open.
Someone from inside usually opens the gate for us.
I hug and kiss him goodbye at the gate and watch him run inside. His teacher or the assistant on duty usually runs outside to meet him and occasionally he looks back and waves. Mostly he just runs straight to her.
AS soon as he’s inside (I usually hear someone else - I think it’s the lady who cooks -say “HELLO JOEL”), I pull the gate closed (it’s one of those that lock automatically) and I get into my car and leave.
This has worked for us for a while now.
This morning we followed the same routine.
He rang the bell and pressed the buzzer about 6 times (because he CAN!), the gate opened, I saw him off. I watched him run inside as he usually does. I noticed that no one came outside to fetch him but didn’t think anything of it. I figured the assistant was still on her way outside. I ASSUMED something that could have had some far-reaching consequences.
I didn’t see any other kids but I figured that perhaps he was one of the first ones there. IT was 06:37 when I dropped him and the school opens at 06:30.
Anyway, he ran inside, I pulled the gate and as I did this I waited to hear the sound of the gate locking, not immediately realising that I hadn’t heard the “HELLO JOEL” bit.
I then got into my car and drove off.
Well. I got a call about 15 minutes after I arrived at work. His teacher was LIVID because he was ALL ALONE on the school premises when the assistant arrived.
I went ice-cold. I felt HORRIBLE and I kept thinking about the fact that anything could have happened to my baby.
I apologised profusely and told her that I’m not quite sure how that is possible because someone definitely opened the gate from the inside when we rang the bell. The teacher insisted that there was no one there and that they can see on the alarm system when the assistant comes and she was definitely late.
Child2 was quite fine though. He was eating his fruit that I had packed in for him and happily playing by himself ON THE MONKEY BARS! Goodness me, it gets better and better. What if he had fallen and injured himself and there was no one to help him?
I told her that I’m prepared to accept responsibility for my part in this and that from now onwards I will walk him inside and watch him drop his bag and say hi and shake hands with whoever was there, but that someone was not telling the truth and it wasn’t me. I asked her how the gate opened? She couldn’t answer.
Pont is, all is/was OK. Things could have gone horribly wrong but they didn’t.
I feel terrible about my poor boy being there all alone and even though he doesn’t appear to be traumatized and had loads of fun by himself, ANYTHING could have happened and I would NEVER have been able to forgive myself.
I just held him VERY tight when I collected him. And he didn’t even want to be touched. He cried when I fetched him because he was busy building a puzzle and I was now interrupting him. Silly boy!
Lesson Learned. Thankfully NOT the hard way. Onwards and upwards and all that.
I did hesitate to publish this post. I feel bad enough as it is and am not in the mood for more judgement.
Please learn from my experience and don’t ASSUME things. Seriously. I don’t know what I would have done today if this situation had turned out any differently. Be on your guard, observe your surroundings, always trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions if things don’t seem 100%.