It’s about this time of year that the internet explodes with back to school stuff. Everything from advertising the latest shoes/pencil case/bag to “must have” lists from know-it-all mum bloggers (totally me next year!). I can’t join in with these, though, because this year it’s not ‘back to school’ for us, but ‘first day of school’.
He’s totally ready for the experience, as am I (especially after 6 weeks of summer holidays, believe me!), but there’s still a part of me wondering how on earth my little boy is old enough to be at school. I think the hardest thing to adjust to, however, is actually going to be the permanence and rigidity of the whole thing. I’ve been a Stay-At-Home/Work-At-Home -Mum since before he was born. For the whole of his life I have had complete flexibility over his timetable and can do what suits me, him and the family. Even at preschool I could whisk him away if we wanted or needed to and he spent the majority of his time with me.
Now, suddenly, his day-to-day activities and time will be eaten up by school. It’s going to be a bigger adjustment that I’m prepared for, I expect, for both him and me. I still remember with shock when he spent the day with my mum when he was about 18 months old and I came back to find that he was doing something new. I can’t even remember what it is now – he’d learnt a new song or skill – but I can remember how very alien it felt to me that he’d learnt something new and I wasn’t the one who had taught him.
From next week onwards every day is going to be like that. He’s going to come home telling me things he’s learnt at school and, after a while, he’ll be teaching me things I didn’t already know. I’m very much ready to lengthen the apron strings a bit, but the thought of them coming undone completely is, I suspect, going to be my undoing.
In the meantime I am lovingly getting everything ready for him, buying uniform and shoes, sticking and sewing in nametapes – ah, I remember my mum doing the same for me, it seems the epitome of maternal care somehow – washing, polishing, ironing (never to be repeated I suspect), going over lists to make certain he has every bag and folder required. I am fully aware that I am guilty of a slight tendency towards dippiness and, whilst it’s bad enough when the negative results affect me, I am seriously stressing out that I’m going to forget something vital that will negatively affect him.
I so want school to be a good experience, to be fun and engaging and enriching for him and all I’ve read is how stressed out children are in this country, how Scandinavia does it better not starting them until 7, how SATS are the bane of everybody’s’ lives and driving our teachers and offspring alike toward mental health problems our healthcare system cannot afford to treat.
But I can’t do anything about that, short of home educating and, in terms of my patience and our finances, we can’t really afford to do that, so all I can do is to sew in his nametapes, polish his shoes, make sure he has the ‘Thunderbirds’ rucksack and (carefully labelled) ‘Frozen’ water bottle he wanted and wave him off at the schoolgates hoping that school won’t break his glorious carefree spirit, his love of learning or the (sometimes fragile) bond that he and I have.