The New School Rules

So here we are three days into the first week of ‘back to school’ and it’s becoming abundantly clear that things aren’t what they used to be…

Forget the reception classroom home corner – the days of Mini-me playing Mummies and Daddies with some poor unsuspecting five-year-old boy could be over, or at least numbered.

You see we’ve entered the ‘grown-up’, slightly more structured world of Year One. Which could be good news for Mini-me’s male classmates, who she seems to rotate in order of who she fancies marrying on any given week.

I’m reliably informed that you instruct the ‘lucky’ recipient of your affections of your plans to get hitched – and then watch as they sprint across the playground. Which is good news for the other half bearing in mind that he says boys are not allowed until she’s 27.

Anyway, it looks like Year One is going to be a steep learning curve for us parents too.

Here’s what I’ve swotted up on so far – perhaps you’ve found the same…

 

  1. Your offspring will no longer cry as they line up at the start of the day. You in fact will be the one shedding a few stray tears, because ‘Don’t they look grown up…’ (cough, sniffle.)

 

  1. Your child will start mentioning actual proper lessons like ‘literacy’, which will weirdly remind you of the time you asked your gran to help you with your algebra homework and she just looked vaguely panicked. Is it possible your kid will soon be asking you complicated questions about verbs?!

 

  1. On the same note you will answer the question: ‘Mummy, what’s dividing’, with something that would not have satisfied Johnny Ball. (Remember him?!)

 

  1. You will be amazed that your child can not only tell you what they had for lunch but is also happy to chat for a couple of minutes about their day. You put this down to it being the first week of school and presume that by Monday it will revert to: ‘Can’t remember. Can I have another snack?’

 

  1. You are proud of the fact that you have been on time for three days in a row. Hopes that this will continue into week two are of course fruitless and soon you will be back to sprinting down the road and trying to vault the playground fence in a time of 36 seconds while towing your poor offspring behind you.

 

  1. You’ve started wondering about things like ‘mixed ability sets’ and what exactly your child will be doing in their ICT lesson while hoping that they don’t reveal to the teacher their iPad addiction to Horrid Henry.

 

  1. Talking of Horrid Henry, you’ve tried to justify the fact that you ate dinner in the same kitchen as your child last night while both plugged into your own tablets with thoughts that they ‘really need some chill out time’. (Otherwise known as parent rediscovers the Cold Feet box set.)

 

  1. Although you’re not enjoying the unseasonably humid weather you kind of hope it stays that way so you can get some wear out of Mini-me’s two new summer dresses (which don’t need ironing.)

 

  1. You feel guilty about the fact that your friend told you their house was eerily quiet and they were missing their child, while you secretly revelled in the silence…

 

  1. You enjoy looking at all the obligatory ‘kids in uniform on front step’ piccies on Facebook and remember with amusement the many years when it REALLY bored you senseless.

 

  1. You have a long and most enjoyable coffee outing with your close mum friends and thank god that ‘therapy at the school gates’ is now a daily fixture once more.
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The Primary School, Parental Exploding Brain Equation

I’m supposed to be working, but I’ve just spent the last 20 minutes frantically googling ‘neon children’s outer-wear’…

No Mini-me isn’t off to an ‘80s themed birthday party (although it would make a change from Frozen come to think about it, and involve better music), no this is just one of the new daily challenges my parental friends and I are facing. Those of us with reception class age children, I should say.

The second half of Mini-me’s first term at primary school kicked off this week, and I’m still not used to the rapidly expanding pile of paperwork, various important diary dates (non uniform, slight variation on uniform, fund-raising, special events etc.) and homework and project related stuff I need to be on top off.

Yes apparently I am now Mini-me’s PA – on top of being her personal chef (yes fish fingers and baked beans count), social secretary, style advisor, washer-woman and maid. And as it turns out I’m not very good at the job.

So far today I have forgotten that tomorrow is her class group’s show and tell day and that it is ‘Be Bright Day’. Namely where she needs to be decked out in some kind of luminous coat, scarf and hat combo that drivers and cyclists can see should she be walking to or from school with me in the dark.

Yes I know it’s a very worthy idea, I just wish I’d remembered so I didn’t have to spend time locating day-glo ear muffs at a shop that’s convenient for hubby to ‘swing by’ on the way to Euston Station. Because no one in their right mind would go late-night shopping with a knackered four and one-year-old in tow.

Hopefully Mini-me’s resident pink hat will do the job. I could ‘customise’ it with a bit of silver foil I suppose.

Yes we’re all still adapting to the ‘primary school chapter’, but the good thing is I know we’re not alone. My brilliant school mum friends are keeping me sane and laughing and long may this last.

So two months along here’s a few new things I’ve learned. Maybe some of them will sound familiar.

  1. You used to think you were late for school in the first couple of weeks, but now you know the real meaning of ‘cutting it fine.’ It involves bringing the car to a screeching halt most mornings, sprinting down the road towing poor offspring behind you and other (more well prepared) parents quickly getting out of your way in the playground as they register the panic in your eyes.
  1. You know NEVER to turn up to school pick-up without a snack of some kind for your child about your person. And if you forget, prepare for whinging, crying and them trying to grab a biscuit out of their best friend’s hand.
  1. You are pathetically grateful to your child’s class parents Facebook group. Without kind reminders from your peers you would be DOOMED!
  1. Your child’s ‘hair repertoire’ is now limited to bunches because they are easy. If Mini-me ever requests a French plait I may have a breakdown.
  1. Forget skinny jeans or heels, the best clothing purchase you have ever made is a decidedly untrendy but useful rain jacket with hood. Looking stylish is now even lower on the list of daily priorities than it used to be.
  1. A good ‘morning routine’ is a day which doesn’t involve shouting from you, shouting from offspring and hubby shouting down the stairs about all the shouting.
  1. That the fact that Mini-me can now read books to Blue-eyed boy is AMAZING. Admittedly the plots are a bit limited so far, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
  1. That you now do more washing than a small hotel. And if the machine packs up you cannot be held responsible for your actions.
  1. That when Mini-me says innocently that she’s ‘looking forward to homework’ it fills your heart with joy. And wonder over how long this is likely to last.
  1. That no matter how soon after lunch you ask, your child will NEVER be able to remember what they ate that day. But they will always remember if they got a sticker for eating it all.

Starting School (For The Second Time)

So you know the time trick of not fully realising you’ve entered a ‘New Family Phase’ until you’re actually immersed in one?

I’m not explaining it very well (blame the frazzled brain matter) but those of you with kids will hopefully know what I mean.

It happens when your beloved offspring start consuming actual food and not just milk, when they begin taking tentative steps and before you know it are running amok and when you head back to work and start putting them in childcare on a regular basis.

All things that you can prepare for as much as you like, but don’t really get in the swing of until you’re doling out pureed carrot, sprinting after escaping children and struggling with the ‘guilt’ of having to hand them over so you can earn money to feed, clothe and provide them with plastic tat.

Well so far it’s only been 10 days of real time and seven actual ‘school days’ but, as it turns out, starting school is the biggest parental culture shock so far.

The Neat Freak household, like so many up and down the country, has gone through what feels like a tidal wave of change in a really short space of time, and personally I feel like I’m just about treading water but still gasping for air.

So while Mini-me takes it all in her tiny stride, here’s just a few of the things I’m still trying to adjust to. Maybe some will strike a chord with the rest of you.

  1. How proud I feel seeing Mini-me all shiny and smart in her new uniform, carrying her book bag. How did she get to be so grown up?
  1. How amazing children are to just adapting to a new situation. Every morning we’re barely through the classroom door before Mini-me has put her book bag in the right box, got out her water bottle, said good morning to her teacher and is off to play like she owns the joint.
  1. How brilliant they also are at socialising with friends old and new. As it turns out I could learn a lot about ‘productive networking’ from my four-year-old.
  1. How, try as I might, I will always be the parent making her poor child jog along the pavement to get to school on time. Hopefully school will teach her better time management than I can.
  1. That some serious hair envy goes on at school, at least on my part. Every morning I marvel at the mothers who have managed to tease their child’s hair into a sleek French plait, while carrying their baby around in a sling, while I can barely get Mini-me to stand still long enough to manage a lumpy ponytail.
  1. How quickly you forget how blimmin’ tricky ties can be. Good job I also bought one of the ones on a string.
  1. That Mini-me will soon have actual homework that hopefully I won’t have to nag her to do. Is this the start of officially turning into my mother?
  1. That I’m really excited about becoming a reading helper and joining the PTA. Once a geek and all that…
  1. How I’m loving that Mini-me starting school is also a great excuse for me to meet new friends, and spend more time with old ones.
  1. That I’m also already excited about my little girl being in the school nativity, assuming they have one, and other productions.

(Ah the memories, of my sister being cast as a snow fairy – while I was a plain old boring snowflake – and then, to my horror, as the wicked witch in Gobbolino. It’s all coming back to me now…)