Do you have a child starting school this year?
I’ve been running around like a crazy woman this week … uniforms, textbooks, school shoes … everyday I’ve had to be at a certain place at a certain time to complete one more piece in the back-to-school puzzle. I wrote this post last year on the eve of my youngest starting school but it was never published. A year on, I’m just as emotional as he starts Year 1 next week. And with my eldest starting Year 12, it’s going to be a big year. If you have a child starting school or a milestone year, you might be feeling the same way so I thought I’d share here:
My youngest loves a chat from the back seat of the car. With the mind of a 35-year-old, he often comes out with his best lines when I’m stuck in a traffic jam or running really late for an appointment.
One afternoon late last year driving home from pre-prep he was unusually quiet.
No random questions about Star Wars or Transformers for me to nod and suggest “ask your father”. No chat about all the girls he’d spent the day running away from. No chat about all the food he HADN’T eaten in his lunch box, all the while negotiating an afternoon treat.
Nup. Thumb was firmly in and from the driver’s seat I could almost hear his brain ticking over.
“What’s up, mate?” I asked.
“What days will I go to school next year?” he asked.
“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,” I said.
“But I’ll miss you Mum,” and with five words he’d reduced my guilt-free vision of long lunches with girlfriends and the odd massage indulgence to his five-year-old logic. He had me.
“I’ll miss you too,” I said.
Mr Five is my number three child. (His elder brother is in Year 11 this year and my daughter, Year 10)
This means three things:
Firstly, I’ve been waiting a long time for the moment when ALL my children are at school.
Secondly, his baby book is so sadly incomplete that I’d be better off throwing it out before he’s old enough to do a content comparison with his brother and sister’s.
Thirdly, he’s been brought up on a diet of school terminology – when he was two he would sit down and do “homework” with his big brother and sister. And he’s known the nightmare that is the school drop off zone since coming out of hospital.
Quite frankly he knows too much. And no, I’m not one of THOSE parents who think their child is the brightest, most athletic or angelic to have ever walked through the school gates. Far from it.
His knowledge is not of the “gifted” kind. He has learned his “street smarts” from his teenage siblings and I’m more than a little concerned about what surprises he has in store for his teachers this year.
From his elder brother he has not only an awesome Lego collection; he knows that COD is not just a fish found crumbed and served with chips. (No, COD stands for Call of Duty, a war video game that is probably keeping more teenage boys safe at home and out of trouble than any other video game that came before it.)
His sister is his in-house personal stylist, laying out his clothes on his bed each morning and teaching him which product best suits his hair texture.
So what has that left me to share with him?
Well, let’s see. From a very early age, I taught him the concept of “Mummy Day”.
By definition, a Mummy Day was any day when he got to hang out with mum instead of going to kindy or pre-prep. No big kids around. Just him and me.
I taught him that Mummy Days would go a lot more smoothly if we stopped for a coffee first. I taught him which cafes purveyed the best coffee. (This year he demanded to be taken to the cafes that produced the best cake). Fair call.
I taught him the concept of quid pro quo. Post coffee, we would go to the beach/park/pool; in return he would give me a couple of hours on the computer and television rights between 1-2pm for Oprah.
As he got older, the rhythm of Mummy Days became a well-oiled machine. We were buddies.
He got quite clever at conning me into taking him for sushi for lunch; I got quite clever at making trips to the post office or Medicare seem like an adventure of epic proportions.
This morning he put on his new black leather shoes, threw a too-big backpack on his back and strode into the school gates for the first day of 13 years of education.
Is he ready? Absolutely. Did I shed a tear? You bet … and then I headed out for a coffee and a massage. Mummy Days have suddenly taken on a whole new meaning.
… we still have “Mummy Days”, they just happen during the holidays … and they’re just as special
Do you have “Mummy Days”? Do you remember your first day of school? How do you spend time with your kids now they’re at school? Are you hanging out for them to start?Main photo: credit