Starting school: time-keeping, playground politics and the PTA

It’s coming up to that time of year. When social media is flooded with pictures of the first day of school and the words “How is this possible?” are worn thin in disbelief at the inevitable passing of time.

And that is said completely without judgement. Photo reels will be scrolled, “Look how tiny she was” will be exclaimed and tears will definitely be shed. Since having children I’ve become a gifted crier and its my default reaction whenever I’m happy, sad, angry, disappointed, worried, frustrated, or just feel like everyone needs to be a bit nicer to each other because THE WORLD IS GOING TO SHIT… So I am definitely going to cry on Monday 4th September when my girl, my baby, my magic, my star, starts to spend most of her time away from me.

I can’t quite get my head around the fact that she is going to spend five days a week, for most weeks of the year, for the next thirteen years, in a room, with people I don’t know, but she soon will.

I’m struggling with the knowledge that when she walks into that classroom she’s also walking slowly away from needing me quite so much. I’m yearned for that, been desperate for it, and now the time has come I can only think what a dick I’ve been.

IMG_5212
It’s a unicorn horn, alright…

But putting all the slushy crap to one side, I have some other more practical/ petty concerns that are taking up way too much space in my head:

  1. School gate politics. Working mums being frowned upon (yes, really), impenetrable cliques, or the mum who once told a friend of mine not to wear her new trainers on Tuesdays and Thursdays because she had the same pair and that was when she was planning on wearing hers #truestory – the tales I have heard and read about the perils of the playground politics concern me. I know I’ll do what I always do, and hover on the periphery until I’ve sussed the terrain, and I’m sure there will be nice mums too, but I’m not relishing the prospect of dealing with people whose emotional maturity seems to have stalled age six (looking at you mum who ostracised another friend of mine because her child got a small piece of cake in a party bag…)
  2. Arriving on time. Like, how? Two children, fed, dressed, and walked up a hill before 9am? What witchcraft do you use? I used to get the girl to nursery for 8am when I was working in a non-flexi job, but then she would eat breakfast there. It’s breakfast that is the problem for us. I can wriggle sleepy children into clothes before they leave their bedroom, but considering both my kids can down a tube of Smarties like a yard of ale at Freshers Week (just open your throat, OPEN YOUR THROAT… ah shit…!), it never ceases to amaze me how precise their chewing becomes whenever we need to leave the house in a hurry. They watch each other chew.real.ly.slow.ly. and are steely in their determination to break me. There will be shouting.
  3. Bullying. Of me (see point 1)… just kidding (sort of). I’m actually worried about the first time the girl comes home to tell me someone has been mean to her. And I don’t mean the “she took my toy” kind of way that it has been up until now – I’m talking about the malicious meanness that kids everywhere are capable of. I already know that looking into her hurt, confused eyes will crush my insides and make me wonder how appropriate it would be to counsel revenge. That saying about parenthood is like wearing your heart outside your body? This is why it’s a cliche.
  4. The PTA. Being blunt, how do I avoid getting sucked in? I want to be involved, I’ll attend events and bake (buy) some cakes, but I’m really not cut out for being reliable. I can barely manage my life, work, keep small people alive and reply to text messages, nevermind organise socials for mums who will tell me when I’m allowed to wear my trainers and how much cake their kid would like to eat. But I also feel bad when the same people get dumped on over and over again. I need to learn how to be more mean. Maybe those cliques have a point…
  5. Over-expectations of what I can achieve. For the first time ever I will have both of my children in formal childcare/ education for three whole days a week. I am planning to expand my business, write lots more blogs, project manage a (currently fictional) house renovation and move, hoover behind the settee, clean the oven, wash the wheelie bins, have perfectly manicured nails, wear actual make-up, brush my hair and put together outfits in a way I’ve not yet managed in 36 years. I think I’m going to be disappointed.

Other than that though, I’m really looking forwards to her starting school…

Are you a veteran school-gate mum? Please share reassuring tales of cups of tea, gentle conversation, and people whose politics don’t make you want to stab yourself in the eye with a spoon. Or perhaps you’re a newbie too – what are your dreams and fears?

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