1st day of school!

It only seems like yesterday that my eldest daughter was born and yet here I am nearly 5 years later, and my baby girl is starting primary school this week!

I have to be honest and admit that I have very mixed emotions about it. I am sure some parents cannot wait for their child to start school but to be truthful, part of me doesn’t want her to go. Obviously, I won’t share this with her at all, I have been and will continue to be incredibly supportive and positive about her starting school. However, it has affected me more than I thought it would. I knew this day was coming but the closer it gets the more emotional I feel.

It’s bizarre because I taught 5- and 6-year-olds for more than 5 years and I know that those children who are tearful when leaving their grown-ups are often fine within a few minutes.

Yet here I am as a teacher and a Mum, and I feel as though I am handing over my baby/my little girl to a complete stranger (her teacher), and I don’t like it. Nobody knows my daughter like I do and I’ve not been inside her new school or had chance to talk to her teacher due to Covid restrictions.

I know that my daughter is ready for school, and she is looking forward to it, deep down I know that she will be fine, and she is ready for the challenges and fun times ahead.

I’m not sure if my emotions have stemmed from being a mother or whether feelings and memories been resurfaced from my own childhood. To be fair, I have lovely memories of most of my time at primary school. I remember being in reception and my first ever teacher – Mrs Duck! She was so incredibly lovely and everyone I went to school with remembers her fondly. I remember her playing ‘Congratulations’ by Cliff Richard in assemblies and how she would let us have a nap on the bed she had in her classroom. If we ever hurt ourselves, we would get given a jelly baby – I wonder how many children pretended to hurt themselves just so they could get one! Whenever it was a wet lunchtime, we would all sit in a room and the dinner ladies would bring in the television and put on Sesame Street for us to watch and every Friday afternoon our Headmistress would come and read us ‘The Naughtiest Girl in School’ books by Enid Blyton. Although we all stood up whenever she came into our classroom and being threatened with being sent to see her was enough to make us all quiver in our shoes, I have fond memories of her, not least because she gave me my first nickname (a nice one!).

However, those of you who have read my other blog posts will know that I also had some horrendous times towards the end of primary school and at the start of secondary school, which ultimately resulted in me being home educated. It is a shame that my fond memories of primary school have been tainted by my Year 5 teacher and the new Headteacher forcibly carrying me into school by my ankles and arms because I was too anxious to leave my Mum.

Not only that, but I am struggling with the expectations that are put on such young children and how much we require them to conform e.g., when children can eat/drink or go to the toilet. I appreciate that children are very good at adapting and that they are generally very resilient, however I suppose I don’t understand why we expect so much from them at such a young age.

So many countries across the world don’t send children to school until they are 6 or 7 and even then, a lot of countries have a much less conformist way of educating their children, particularly when they are young.

If I could home educate my children I probably would, as unlike when I was home educated there is a lot more help and support out there now and so many more social opportunities. However, all I can do is support my girls as much as possible and hope that they both have a good experience of primary school.

Fortunately, my daughter wasn’t around to see my shiny eyes as I got out her school uniform ready for next week! Whatever the weather I will have my sunglasses ready just in case my eyes get shiny again on her first day!

I will no doubt find it hard to begin with and will miss her, but I am sure that I will feel better when I pick her up after her first day and hear all about what she has been up to.

For all the other parents/carers out there sending their children off to school for the first time, I hope you can be kind to yourself, after all, this is one of their first big milestones in life!

Lockdown part 3….Week 15

This week has felt like what I imagine the new normal may be the foreseeable future. My youngest daughter returned to her childminder for the first time since the last lockdown started and my eldest daughter had her first day at pre-school. I cannot remember the last time I had to put my alarm on which was a shock to the system as we have enjoyed relaxing mornings, eating breakfast in pyjamas, instead I was running around like a headless chicken getting the girls up, dressed and fed before putting them in the car at 8am. Thank goodness it was light and sunny! I didn’t know how my eldest would be on her first day as she has spent the last 6 months with me and her sister and before starting preschool she went to the same childminder as her sister, but she took hold of her teachers’ hand and went straight in. I spent the day wondering how she was and if she was ok but when I went to collect her in the afternoon, she had a smile on her face and her teacher said it’s like she has always been there. I was very proud and a little choked at how well she had coped and adapted, it made me realise that children can be more resilient than adults!

This week parents of pre-schoolers in England were waiting to hear what Primary School their children had gained a place at and although I was resigned to accepting whichever school this maybe I was starting to get fidgety in anticipation of the news. I had my hopes on a small village school rather than my local school which is very big but as it wasn’t in my catchment area, I didn’t get my hopes up. When I woke up on Friday morning, I checked my emails and saw the notification and was so happy and relieved to see she had been offered her first choice! I still can’t believe that my youngest daughter will be starting school in September!

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Whilst both girls were in childcare, I used the opportunity to go to a clothes shop with my Mum for the first time since lockdown and felt reassured that they were limiting numbers in store, so it felt safe and pleasant to look around. I certainly wouldn’t have been queuing to get in and can’t even imagine how crowded it must have been in the likes of Primark! I haven’t really missed going into shops as it kind of feels like the new normal to not be able to do so many things. The highlight of the trip was when a woman asked us if we would mind watching her new-born baby whilst she took her daughter on the escalator as her daughter hadn’t been on one for so long and found it exciting. Her baby boy was fast asleep and looked so peaceful and content, I stood and looked at him with a sparkle in my eye, I could feel myself getting broody, but I soon snapped myself out of it! It was lovely that the woman felt able to ask us and trust us even though it was only for a couple of minutes.

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I finally managed to hand in my case study (2 weeks early) for my counselling course and have been working my way through my last assignment of the year which is due in 10 days’ time. At times I’ve felt like spitting the dummy out but know it must be done. The final hurdle before finishing the first year of the course is doing a 10-minute presentation to the rest of the group and anyone who knows me knows I don’t like talking to groups of people or attention being on me so this will be a challenge for me especially as we must talk about ourselves.

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I have been sticking to my Noom plan and I am 2 weeks in…let’s see how I get on this week.

I caught a bit of Jamie Oliver’s, Keep Cooking Family Favourites and found myself rolling my eyes when he kept telling viewers to add a ‘kiss’ of oil…please! If I were cooking with my children and told them to add a ‘kiss’ of oil they’d look at me as if I’d lost the plot!! Now I’m all for exposing children to new foods but when he was making the aubergine salad, I kept thinking that my girls would look at me as if to say what’s that and why are there flowers in it, his son didn’t look too impressed when he was trying it either!