Last week the day finally came. I suddenly became the mother of a school-age child. Although we’ve been preparing for this day since the start of the year, even longer perhaps, somehow it still felt like it had sneaked up on me. How on earth did I become the mother of an almost-five-year-old?
In one sense I wasn’t at all worried about her first day at school. She’s been ready for it for a while. Being an October birthday she’s going to be one of the older ones in her year group, and it’s shown at pre-school, with her already being quite advanced in what she can do in terms of numeracy and literacy. I appreciate I’m just a little bit biased, but I think she’s quite a bright cookie. For the last couple of months she’s been getting bored with pre-school, telling me that she can do all her numbers and letters, but she has to keep practising because some of the other children can’t do them yet! So I had no concerns about her being academically ready. And her older cousin is already at the same school, plus a lot of her friends from nursery would be there, so I was pretty sure she was ready socially as well
But she’s still my baby girl, and I can’t quite get my head around being the parent of a school-aged child…
She woke early on that first day. She was clearly excited, and bounded into our bedroom as soon as she heard me stir. Rather unexpectedly the thing that had her most excited was the fact that we were going to be walking to school. Yes, the geekdaddy and I had decided a while ago that should we get into our first choice school, the one we are in the catchment area for, it was close enough that we would walk there and back each day. The roads around the school get very busy at school start and end time, and if we could avoid adding our car to that chaos it would be better all around.
I suppose I should make a confession at this point. The geekdaughter’s school is literally opposite her nursery. Technically we could have been walking her to nursery for the last four years as well. But we haven’t. In my defence, I started off dropping her at nursery on my way to work, and collecting her on the way home, so it was easy to get into the habit of using the car. But with the move to “big school” we are setting a new standard, and so far we’ve walked to and from school every day. We’ve been lucky with the weather so far – I hope the geekdaughter’s enthusiasm persists when we have to walk in the rain.
The first school run went well. We arrived at school on time. Despite only having met us briefly once before, the geekdaughter’s teacher recognised us and came over to say hello. Then she took the geekdaughter’s hand and showed her to the classroom door, which the geekdaughter walked through without a backward glance. It all happened really quickly, and felt like a bit of an anticlimax.
What I was not expecting was the geekson’s reaction. The minute his sister disappeared through the door he burst into tears. He sobbed and called out her name for the next five minutes or so, and even after we got him home was quite tearful. I wasn’t expecting that reaction at all. I have just assumed he’d take it all in his stride. But thinking about it, he’s always been with her – although not in the same class at nursery, we’ve always dropped them off together. We have sometimes taken the geekdaughter out of nursery whilst still taking the geekson in, but as we always drop him off first before her I’m not sure he’s ever realised that sometimes she’s not been there with him. That first day was the first time we’d dropped the geekdaughter off first, and it obviously upset him. It seems ironic somehow that we’d put so much effort into explaining what would be happening to the geekdaughter, and getting her prepared, and we hadn’t thought to explain it all to the geekson as well.
Thankfully things have got gradually better, and he gradually cried less and less at each dropoff until last Friday when he didn’t cry at all. Whew.
As for the geekdaughter, as expected she has adjusted brilliantly. She comes home very tired each day (in fact the last couple of days she has been asking to go to bed before her usual bedtime), and is fairly vague about what she does each day, but she seems happy. She seems to be doing a lot of colouring and painting, and is learning some new songs too. She plays with her cousin most playtimes (thankfully he is not yet of an age when it is embarrassing to be seen playing with a girl two years younger!), and is making new friends.
She’s already told me she likes school better than nursery, because they’re allowed to talk during meals! And she still thinks the best thing about school is walking there and back. This week she wanted to ride her scooter like the other children, which we let her do, then after one day she wanted to ride her bike instead.
So that’s school. All going OK really. Let’s hope it stays that way.