Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Big school

In a bit of a mad rush today as I have to compact all my work into a few short hours before fetching eldest son early from pre-school. Today he has his first trial session at big school. I am terrified. There's something about going back to school that instantly makes me feel as though I'm doing something wrong. Maybe it's the way all the teachers insist on being called Mrs X or Miss Y, rather than say Ruth or Emily.

And they have so many rules. Good grief. Even for the short one hour and fifteen minute session he'll be having today, we've been instructed to ensure that the children have a drink and a hat. Further on in the letter they specifically say NOT TO BRING ANY DRINKS OTHER THAN WATER. So I guess that applies to today as well. I have a sippy cup or a spiderman cup that I can put the water in. Are there rules about what the water is allowed to be in? Will my son be ostracised if I get it wrong? Will he immediately labelled as uncool?

And then there's the what they should wear bit. My son is in shorts and his pre-school t-shirt. And he'll have a hat (please, please let me not forget that). But is that what they're supposed to wear? Am I supposed to have already bought a uniform? Will my child be the only one that doesn't fit in?

Then there's the small issue of my son himself. He doesn't 'do' new situations well. He doesn't like being looked at. He doesn't like to let go of my leg (he still clings to me like a hermit crab everytime I drop him at pre-school and he's been going there for years). And when he doesn't like something, he's not particularly good at keeping his emotions in check. In fact, if they had Tantrum Olympics, he would be the proud owner of several gold medals.

This morning before we headed off for pre-school we'd already had: 'Yay, I'm going to big school. And you're not.' (said tauntingly to younger brother). This was swiftly followed by: 'I don't want to go to big school. It's stupid. And boring. And I already know how to read.' (he doesn't). This then promptly changed to: 'Because I'm going to big school mummy, does that mean I can sit in the front seat of the car?' (no you can't). So then we had: 'Well if I don't want to go to school I don't have to.' (er, actually you do).

So I am expecting that when I fetch him in 45 minutes time we will have excitement, followed by tears, then more excitement, then more tears etc until we get there (and that will just be me). Upon arrival he will have a complete and utter meltdown due to the complete flood of emotions. I will be the mother that the others all look at sympathetically (meanwhile smirking inside) while their darling children jauntily wave goodbye without a care in the world.

What my son doesn't realise is that this isn't just about the first impression he has to make, it's about the impression I have to make. All of my pareting skills, all of the time I've invested in the last 4 and a bit years, all of the time outs, teaching of manners, sitting on naughty steps, praising, rule-making, reward boarding, it all comes to a head this afternoon. Today my child leaves the safe confines of home, and his behaviour - and by proxy my parenting skills - will be on display for all to see. And I'm willing to bet a large slice of chocolate cake that we're not going to come away with top marks.

But he might prove me wrong. He might be an angel. He and I might be eminently cool. I might be the mum that all the other mums think: Gosh, she's got it in control and what a well-behaved young man.

Chances are slim.

I really think that someone needs to set up 'Going to big school preparation classes' - not for the children you understand, for the adults. They could cover things like what to pack in a lunch box, what types of cakes are appropriate for a bake sale, what is appropriate school gate behaviour, how to help your child to fit in and what are parent/teacher evenings.

Because they give ante-natal classses and personally, I'm finding this going to school lark far more intimidating than giving birth.

Must dash. Will report back.

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