Dear School Gate Parents,
My 4-year-old is about to start school, and I’m nervous. I am as nervous as a turkey in the run up to Christmas. And in all honesty, my nerves are not really about Sonny starting school, as I know he will be great. He’s a confident little chap who loves meeting new people, can talk the hind legs of a donkey and for the most part, knows his rights from his wrongs. In all honesty, I’m not nervous for him, I’m nervous for me.
Selfish huh? I know what some of you will be thinking. ‘Your focus should be on your child, stop worrying about yourself.’ Before I go on please let me reassure you, I’ve done everything I can to prepare him for this new huge phase in his life and as I say, he is a happy and confident little man. Sonny could not be more excited about meeting his “new friends” and getting stuck into learning/ finding what school stuff will fit in other stuff. And yes, I know he will have good and bad days despite this positive attitude, but what a great start eh? Yet despite his eagerness and sunny disposition, when I think about his first day I get the tummy jitters. It’s a bit like I’m starting school again, with an added 33 years of societal hang ups and worries on my ageing shoulders.
There are many things that I’m worried about. Let me help you work through my ramblings by breaking them down into a bulleted list….
- Being late – tell me oh seasoned school parents, how do I avoid a shit fit every morning? It already takes all my zen reserves to get them up, breakfasted and dressed and we often don’t have anywhere to go. And at present, it takes approximately 45 minutes to persuade Sonny and Bessie to don their usual superhero/ Pinky Pie outfits, so getting them into uniforms (including proper ties) is going to be a test of strength and patience. How will I do it all in time? I hate being late and having met the Headteacher of Sonny’s new school I know we’ll get proper bollocked if we are. Gulp.
- Being super early – on account of my travel panic. Which as faithful readers know is a big problem of mine.
- Being a Northerner in a sea of Southerners – I’ve lived down South for 16 years and so my accent has naturally softened, but in case anyone hears me say ‘master’ or ‘bath,’ I am indeed from up North. Most Southerners are pretty accepting of this but the occasional douche has treated me like a wildling. I’m proud of being Northern and so refuse to change my accent, but it’s another reason for me to stand out and be the recipient of jovial or not so jovial ridicule. (No, I do not know Peter Kay and yes, we all eat coal on Hovis).
- Falling over at the school gates – I am the clumsiest person ever. Literally. I have been known to fall over a spoon. Not even a serving spoon, a sodding teaspoon. I once got stuck to a tent door by my hair (it was caught in the zip). I drop about 25 things DAILY, on me and on the floor. So it’s a high probability I will rock up to the gates and immediately fall on my face in a muddy puddle.
- Crying – despite Sonny’s positive attitude, I recognise his first day of school is a big thing. He will spend the next 7 years at this school. What if I end up blubbing like I did after Marley and Me? I was pretty inconsolable after that tearjerker. I had to go and play frisbee for 30 minutes to calm down, and this was before having kids. Crying screw face is not going to help me impress the other parents and will also increase my chances of falling due to the reduced vision.
- Being judged – every Mum and Dad, even the most laid back, has worried about being judged at some point in their parenting life. It starts with breast or bottle, then dummy or thumb, milestone hitting, sleep habits and routines, using TV and iPads…the list goes on. And although I notice that other parents make different choices to mine, I’m always keen to stay away from being Judgy McJudge. We are all different, we all make different choices and we all have a relentless 24 hr a day 365 day a year job. That said, I know it’s easy to make a snap judgement of others especially in new and stressful situations, and we will all have a smidgen of it during these first few weeks. Getting back into the arena of judgement scares me a bit. More than a bit. Frankly, it terrifies me.
- Making friends – Now here’s the biggie. I know I am super lucky to be at home with my kids, but I have to admit that I’m finding it tough and I really miss adult company. I don’t want to be too whiny (maybe that’s where Bessie is getting it from!) but I sometimes feel a bit lonely. And who will be my saviour, but some of these parents dropping their children off at school at the same time as me. I am pretty certain that I am going to find my new best friend (gotta aim high). In my head, it will be like a scene from the film Bad Moms, where we get into some high jinx but all end up being true life friends. So I might have a creepy ‘please like me’ face on which I need to get practising. I’m thinking a mix of Zoolander’s blue steel and ASOS catalogue model but it will probably end up being more like a cocker spaniel trying to hold in a fart.
So when I think about these things, I get myself in a right pickle. Which is why I am writing this plea. Please, please if you see someone looking slightly constipated, covered in food, with a few self-inflicted bruises – please give her a smile. She might even be crying a bit. Maybe say hello and involve her in your conversation. It could be me.
Seasoned school parents – you’re probably dab-hand at this playground politics malarkey. I need your morning routine advice and the low down on which teachers are softer than others. I’d love an adult chat about how expensive uniform is (spoiler – many Benjamins). It would be lovely to get some tips about how people tackle World Book Day, do they go all out or is no one that arsed and it’s simply a superhero and princess menagerie?
And for the gate newbies like me. I’m sure some of you are taking this all in your stride. Some of you might only be able to do initial drop off and wish you could be the one at the school gates every day but have a job and you can’t. And some of you I’m sure are shitting it a bit like me. I’ll throw you a smile. I’ll gibber about rushing and how fast the past 5 years have gone and how the British weather sucks. Let’s develop some camaraderie. For one day, we could be besties. 😉
Peace out, N ♥