26/09/2014 10:55 BST | Updated 25/11/2014 05:59 GMT

I Abandoned My Daughter Today... (at Preschool)


Well, that was emotional.

I dropped my daughter off earlier this morning. We've been explaining to her what's going to happen for a while. How it'll be like playgroup but without daddies & mummies. That a few of her friends will be there. And how daddy will take her, play for a little bit, go away for a bit, and then come back to take her home. She seemed ok with it. All went as expected at the first preschool drop off. Especially the 'go away' bit unfortunately.

She's not been to nursery yet, and has only spent a few days in childcare over half a year ago. She is not often alone with people other than myself or my wife, apart from once a month or so when we have a night out and my sister kindly babysits, and who is another familiar family figure in my daughter's life.

My daughter is now over two and a half, and is ready - needing - to learn to interact with new children on her own. Playgroups are fine, but I'm always there. Same goes for playdates, and our frequent playground visits. It's time to play away from daddy.

She is a social creature. She loves being around other children. But she also gets a bit overwhelmed by them. She also wants to make friends, but has no real idea how to. She wants to communicate with them, but still relies on me to relay any information. We've hit the stage where she needs to figure this stuff out for herself, and necessity is the mother - or father - of invention.

So, pre-school.

10 mins after arriving on our first day, I gently backed away as she was occupied at the play-doh table, one of her favourite activities.

I watched unseen from the kitchen. She was happy for a while. But then I could see it developing. The play-doh squishing slowed. Her eyes began to glance around. The lower lip began to quiver. Then the tears began to flow. Not sad tears, but utterly inconsolable distraught tears, with the barely discernible cries of "Daddy! I want my daddy!".

I exchanged looks with her key worker, who indicated I should hang back while she tried to placate my daughter with a story. But it was to no avail, so she brought her over to me.

My daughter held me tighter than she ever has, repeating over and over through the stream of tears "Daddy! I love my daddy!". It was a scene reminiscent of the ending of The Railway Children.

Except, in this case the 'Daddy' then abandoned said daughter while she was distracted by the outdoor play, as it was decided this was for the best in helping her adjust. I was assured they would phone me if she got upset again and couldn't be calmed down.

So here I am at home, with a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich for emotional comfort, staring at the phone hoping it doesn't ring.

The 2 1/2 hour preschool session, that I thought wouldn't be long enough to get much done, now seems to be lasting an eternity.

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