Bursting into tears at the preschool open house

Philip burst into tears.


I hated telling him, “All done. Time to go,” after he had finally stopped crying at the preschool open house.

I understood his tears. It had been a hell of a week. On Tuesday, he suffered his first bee sting. On Wednesday, allergies caused so much sinus drainage that, not only did he struggle to sleep, the mucus overwhelmed his stomach and he vomited. Multiple times. On me.

On Thursday morning, an always stressful trip to the pediatrician brought relief for Philip’s tummy and nose, but his sleep schedule was already thrown off. He only managed a few hours of sleep early Friday morning, so I wasn’t surprised to find him napping when I came home from work that day to go to the open house. I didn’t want to wake him, but Peter thought it would be good to get the restless little boy out of the house.

Philip cried as I took him downstairs and then when I carried him to the car. He wailed when I opened the car door in the school’s parking lot. Once out of the car, he tearfully yanked on my shirt to insist that I carry him inside. He whimpered the whole way, and my attempts to set him down were met with renewed tears.

He was tired and still sniffling, but being back at school eventually revived him. He calmed enough so I could sit with him in a pint-sized chair. He calmed enough to notice the basket activity on the table beside us. He calmed enough to climb off my lap and begin the sorting game. He calmed enough so that I could walk away and talk to his teacher. He calmed enough to play with his preschool classmates, including his “girlfriend.” He calmed enough to explore the classroom that he had not seen since May.


Unfortunately, as he calmly played at the messy table, Peter mouthed to me “Let’s go.” With trepidation, I went to tell Philip it was time to leave.

Philip burst into tears.

Philip loves school, so I had been looking forward to taking him to the open house. Yet the week’s one-two punch of sting and allergy symptoms left Philip too exhausted to enjoy the event. As Philip cried, I was saddened that he felt so miserable, frustrated by Peter’s impatience and angry at my complicity in upsetting Philip even more.

As I led a sobbing Philip away from the messy table, Tiana, one of his classmates, came over. She gently touched Philip’s arm. This is the way that I have always seen her greet Philip since she too has speech delays. Despite her gentleness, Philip continued to cry. She walked away.

A moment later, she returned. In a soft voice she said, “Here Philip-fire truck,” as she handed him one of the classroom toys. She patted his arm once more.

I blinked back tears.

Since I don’t feel like being a crybaby alone, I’m linking up with this week’s Yeah Write Weekly Writing Challenge.

48 thoughts on “Bursting into tears at the preschool open house

    1. My little guy seemed so oblivious to the other students when we first enrolled him two years ago. In retrospect, I realize there was a lot of new input for him to process. Those other kids were the least of his worries!


  1. When I read the title I was convinced it was you who burst into tears. This is such a sweet moment. I really love watching preschoolers interact. At that age where they are sweet more than not, love to hug, hate to see each other upset. Those are the moments that keep my faith in humanity! I hope it gets easier on him soon.


    1. I think so too. It will take awhile to adjust to going in the afternoon vs. morning, but there are so many positives, especially being surrounded by the classmates that know and care for him.


  2. I nearly teared up because myson struggled with preschool and cried and cried and I thought of quitting my job…and slowly, over months, he asjusted .today, I dropped him off and his friend smiled at us both and my son looked at him and said “hi” and Iwaso happy. Isnt it amazing how weexperience our children’s emotions, perhaps even stronger than they do sometimes?

    All I can say is it will get better soon!


  3. Wonderful that Philip has a classmate who can communicate with him especially when he is upset. My son had a friend like that all the way through high school. She was one of his protectors, one of the ones who cared for him. So wonderful to have those other advocates.


  4. So sorry to hear he had a rough day and hope the week improves from here. Such a sweet moment with his friend at the end of your post. Every now and again I’m floored by how thoughtful preschoolers can be. It’s a nice counterbalance to the moments I’m less than thrilled with them (ie: like with the kid who bullied mine last year at preschool for months – although to this day I’m not sure her realized he was…).

    In any event – may the week improve from here for your little guy.


  5. What a sweet moment. I just love when you write about the interactions he has with the kids in his class. He’s such a special boy, and seems to be surrounded with people and kids just as incredible.


  6. OMG beautiful. My son’s preschool open house is tomorrow (why am I still awake???). Yikes. And lovely and UGH this parenting stuff – especially with speech delays,etc. is so hard! And so worth it. Hugs.


  7. What a sweet gesture from a sweet little girl. And poor Philip with his tough week. It’s so hard for parents when we see our kids miserable, but know there is no real way to fix it. It just has to run its course. I hope he’s better and enjoys school.


  8. I had peeked back up at the title midway through and though “I’d certainly have cried at the open house”.


  9. Aw! That picture of him is adorable!
    Preschool and tears go together like… well, like preschool and tears I guess. 😉
    I hear it gets better. When they are 27, I think? Hang in there!


  10. I’m sorry you had such a lousy week, but am glad to see it was brightened by such a small thing. It really is the little things that are the most important.


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