I’m not going to lie, we love books in this house. Although I’ve been mega lazy with baby, middle and eldest get read to all the time. Reading to them is so important in order to build up their vocabulary and get them talking (as I found out with middle). Having said that, this (tis, if I can go all English Literature) is my first experience of ‘World Book Day’. Woah, way to add to my growing to do list- thanks! I had managed to store it in the ‘worry about that later’ part of my brain but alas, it has caught up with me. Why can’t they just bring their favourite book on this day and all read each others? I am so copyrighting that idea.
Eldest’s school has decided to go all rebel and put a ‘slant’ on the theme and, he must dress as a ‘word’. I could give them two upon reading the email they sent (will let you all guess!). Slowing reaching a level of panic and, not having any time at all, I suggested ‘school’ to hubby and explained how he would just go as normal. Apparently, that is a lazy effort. Personally, I think it is both hilarious and genius at the same time. No one will be as lazy to do that surely? Having been royally shot down, I then suggested ‘darkness’ and explained that he could go to school dressed in all black. Apparently, this too is lazy.
I’m all for encouraging reading at every opportunity but, after speaking to fellow mums at the gate, I sense this whole day creates a whole lot of unnecessary pressure. Everyone wants their kid to represent the cleverest character or, in my case, word. I’m very much my dad’s daughter in this respect as, at Halloween, when I was little, he cut out a triangle from a cereal box, put it around my neck, and told me to tell my whole GB class that I was ‘the Bermuda Triangle’. Embarrassing at the time but, utterly genius in retrospect. No matter what effort other parents had gone to, I still won. Simplicity or laziness, that is debatable. I know I felt like a right k#ob but, then I saw everyone laughing and I knew it wasn’t a bad thing (kind of). So, ladies hit me with ideas for words or tell me what your little ones will be dressing up as!
On Tuesday we attended our very first parent/teacher meeting. A meeting that served to update us on how eldest has been getting on in terms of learning and socialising. Since he started in September, I have beseeched him with questions the whole way home from school each day. “How did today go? “what did you learn?” “what letter did you learn and how does it sound?” “who did you play with today?” and, finally, “did you behave and listen well?”. Each day he replies in the same manner, “I can’t remember a WHOLE day mummy, I don’t know!”. Ok, forgive me entirely for assuming you could at least regale me about one moment of your day. A day that generally involves some learning, knocking the crap out of each other in the playground, eating lunch and then going home. Sorry for even asking.
As usual eldest had to accompany us. Just like last time, he sat quite peacefully and well behaved outside the door. I now know why. His teacher (who is so lovely) told us what he was doing well at and, the areas he needs to improve on. Phonics mainly which, I will admit, is entirely my fault. He understands most of them but, the ones he doesn’t, I don’t either. Everyone has told me to look up ‘Jolly Phonics’ on YouTube which I would do if middle wasn’t constantly watching f ing Steve and Maggie and Baby Shark on my phone/laptop. He is doing very well with numbers and counting which, does not surprise me as he is very logically minded, like his daddy. To this day I still do not have my Math’s GCSE though A stars in anything English. My mum even sent me to night classes at the local tech two years in a row and, I still couldn’t manage it. I ended up betting her that I could learn Chinese in the evening and pass quicker than I ever would at maths. She obviously knew this was true so, wouldn’t bet me. I did always have a penchant for languages, especially those of the swearing variety.
All was going so well. I felt so proud of eldest and his achievements. Then she got to the not so good things. He can be quite ‘silly’ apparently. “The other day he spent the whole art lesson, sticking his work to his face for, and I quote, ‘a right laugh” she said. This would explain why his face and, also hair, was covered in glue when I picked him up on Monday. “He also likes to make his presence known by randomly poking anyone he is sitting beside whilst they are trying to concentrate” she added. Ground and swallow sprang to mind. On hindsight, this doesn’t actually surprise me as we have always had problems with him shouting in other kid’s faces etc. He doesn’t seem to understand that everyone is entitled to their own personal space. Mortified. Other than that he is conscientious and socialising well with everyone.
Later on that night I called my mum. ‘”Who sticks their artwork to their face for a ‘right laugh’?” I asked. She paused, then continued “Grace, when you were in P3, you got so annoyed at the artwork you had been working on for weeks on end that, you just started cutting someone’s hair off instead”. The moment she said it, I remembered. We all had to sit in a circle and cut cardboard for what felt like hours. Every Friday. People got so bored and numb, they ended up changing positions and sitting with their backs to some people. I really wanted to be a hairdresser at the time (some relative had bought me a Kylie annual that year for Christmas) and, the person beside me had changed position to put her back towards me. So I got bored and I gave her a new ‘do’. It looked marvellous from what I recall but people were more than raging. Alas, my hairdressing dreams ended here. Surely I was just way ahead of the times and had single-handedly invented my own Peter Mark training academy in a primary school? Maybe art and the ensuing boredom it brings is just not for me nor eldest. I will literally die if he cuts someone’s hair though. My poor parents.
Part of this parenting journey is recognising yourself and your traits in them. Then trying to navigate it. Because, when you stand back and try and remember, maybe they aren’t so different from you as what you think. Should I tell the school he shouldn’t have scissors? Maybe I will stifle the next Nicky Clarke if I do that though?
Baby is now on the move, albeit in a rather weird one-legged crawling way. I feel like my life had been quite easy with him until now. I had totally forgotten how bonkers it is when they can actually move. Arggh! I now have another one to try and keep from flinging himself off things. Challenge accepted (begrudgingly)!
Eldest is loving school. Not only that but, he has actually been so excited each morning that he is dressing himself! We are still having slight meltdowns over his trousers and how rough they feel but, on the whole, he seems content with his uniform. The seamless socks I purchased from M & S (after a lovely reader advised) have been amazing! I wish I knew they sold these years ago. Maybe the majority of my sanity would still be intact then? Who am I kidding!
The new addition of the school run has served to add slightly more stress to my days though, a few hours peace admittedly. Getting all of them out of the door for a specific time is proving slightly mental. Middle finds the morning and afternoon run, the prime time to deploy a tantrum about anything and everything. He has learnt to use the word ‘no’ in context. So now anything I ask results in a crossing of the arms, stamping of the feet and, a yelled “NOOOOOOOO!”. The afternoon run is around his nap time so, this one is particularly hell-raising. Trying to get him to walk the five minutes it takes to get to school is, well, head melting. It also usually takes fifteen in the end. Baby is all out of his routine too and now proceeds to scream all morning until right as I begin the afternoon pick up. Of course, everyone at the school gate then thinks he is the most amazing baby, always sleeping soundly- yeah right!
This leads me quite seamlessly to the school gate and, what I have observed. I might go all David Attenborough here as I think it’s warranted. In the vast landscape that is the school gate, there are two types of species. The ones that prey on everyone for a good old chinwag and, the ones who prefer to be lone wolves. The landscape is dominated by females mainly, with a few males stalking the perimeter. Said males seem to be of particular interest to the aforementioned chin waggers. It is important to note that they don’t seem to care for the attention nor, the intrusion. Appearance varies wildly. On one side we have the species that views the daily ceremony as a catwalk and, those that just don’t give a flying toss and rock up whichever way they want. And, why not say’s I (sorry, Attenborough).
I have fallen, rather unintentionally, into the lone wolf category. I am unsure as to whether this is because, on day one, I forgot to put the brake on babies buggy and it rather aggressively hurtled into a yummy mummy. She was in no way amused. This may have been the catalyst to my ostracising from ‘the pack’. I also usually have a pint-sized dictator in tow who, on numerous occasions, has plonked himself across the gate horizontally in a rage, thus preventing other people from gaining access. No matter how much I say “hello” or smile, no one wants to know. That was until the afternoon pick up on Tuesday when a fellow lone wolf decided to take me under their wing. Patricia is a sixty-two-year-old grandmother who picks up her grandson every Monday- Wednesday from the gate. We have struck up quite the accord. As in one where I can’t swear as she was a Girl’s Brigade leader in her formative years. I am so thankful to Patricia for chatting with me and, making standing at the gate alone, like a knob, that little bit easier. I am also highly thankful that it doesn’t appear that she heard me on Wednesday when, upon leaving our street, myself and baby were very nearly run over by a speeding car up the lane beside the school. This old man gets out, like the exemplary person he is, and, accuses me of being in the wrong. Considering he was flying up a lane that school children generally walk up, driving up one side of the lane and, the fact I couldn’t possibly have seen him until I exited the path I was on, has cemented his status as wa#ker of the new school year. ” How was that my fault?” I assertively screamed back, shaking. “Just, um, because it was” he intelligently responded. “I sir, am I pedestrian” I added, “who couldn’t see you from where I was due to the hedge. Maybe if you hadn’t been speeding, you might have seen me”. He did not take kindly to this reasoning and began swearing and gesturing rather madly. “F#ck you!” I suddenly yelled! Mainly out of pure anger that he may have wiped out my third born. I then turn around to witness his shock at this little woman responding to him in the manner in which he spoke to me, only to see five parents dandering down the lane looking horrified. Look’s like this mama and Patricia will be school gate buddies for life! I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. Patricia rocks!
**I want to dedicate this blog post to the beautiful and amazing Rachael Bland who tragically passed away the other day. Her blog, Big C. Little Me. was an inspiration to many and sharing her battle so openly will have helped others. Not only now but, in the future also. This is why we have to be honest- to help others.**
I have been saying to anyone who will listen how much eldest was ready for school and how much I, as his mother, was ready to get rid of him for a few hours each day. I’m aware that sounds rather ruthless but, it’s been a LONG summer. I knew I would be emotional, he is my first born after all! I just had no idea how emotional I would actually be.
On Tuesday morning we met with his teacher for a chat. I couldn’t bribe anyone to mind eldest nor baby (middle at nursery) so, they all got dragged along. The teacher asked him if he would like some pegs and boards to play with outside the room as we talked. I filled with immediate dread! He is attached to my side anytime we are together. “Yes, ok” he surprisingly responded. What? We discussed his level of independence in terms of getting himself dressed, (when he can be arsed basically) any issues he has, (the feeling of certain clothing deeply distresses him) and, start times and finish times etc. It was at this point only that it hit me- the little baby boy I held in my arms only five years ago, was starting school in a few days time. I came home and immediately sobbed my heart out for an hour. I kept looking at him and thinking ‘I’m going to miss him so much’. He has been my little buddy since I took him out of private nursery, at Christmas, in order to give middle a go. If I thought Tuesday was bad, I had been wholly naive- as Thursday morning was to show me.
There was a minor drama about his school trousers, which I expected. But, on the whole, he was relatively excited to get dressed. When I eventually stood back and looked at my little boy, decked out in the togs that will define him, my eyes began to brim over. After the obligatory front door picture, we rather frantically set off as a family to deliver him to school. As he let go of my hand to walk into his classroom, I literally felt like my heart was breaking (I’ve started to cry again whilst typing this -fml). He turned back and gave me the biggest hug and kiss, knowing full well that it was harder for me than for him. “It’s ok mummy,” he said. “See you soon”. He really is so thoughtful and loving which, of course, made me want to cry even more. It was strange coming back home and it just being me, middle and baby. Middle was loving being able to play with eldest’s toys without them being taken off him immediately. This kept him quiet and not peeing everywhere- the only bonus! When I went to collect him at 12pm, a bundle of nerves, he had got on great! Since he has been able to talk, we have always spoken about the best part of our day and, the worst part. I got this from the Kardashians, not a parenting manual, ashamed to say. “My best part was all of it” he stated. “What was the worst part?” I enquired. “There was no worst part mummy, I had a good day”.
This is the beginning of a big journey for him. A journey where he may not like the rules set for him and, knowing him, will try and rebel against them. A journey that will teach him new and amazing things and, show him how intelligent I already know he is. A journey where he will make friends and, probably lose some along the way. I can only hope and pray that he never lets himself down, nor I for that matter. Because, ultimately, I am more nervous than him. I want it to be a great experience for him and one that helps shape him. I want it to be a happy time for him and, I want him to thrive. I also sincerely hope that he doesn’t send his poor teacher round the bend like he does to me all day.
To all the pessimistic, moaners who harp on every year about the endless start of school pictures. To you, I say this- do you remember the excitement, pride and nerves you felt at your child starting another chapter each year? Do you ever think that maybe it took one full hour to get that child into their uniform so, therefore, it’s more than a big deal? Surely all the above warrants a picture, never mind where it’s taken. If you can’t be bothered to even consider all those factors then best to avoid Facebook for a week. Thanks!
In other less passive aggressive news, middle is alternating from being the perfect, potty trained child to a rampant defecator on my floors. I am going to have to take shares out in Domestos at this rate. He is testing my patience ten fold.