It was almost like looking in a mirror.
I was stood on one side of the road and you were stood on the other. I, like you, had my pram and was flanked by two children – five year old on one side of me, three year old on the other. The three year old was screaming “mummy I want a cuddle!” with one breath and then, Miss Contrary that she was, bellowing “No mummy – leave me!!!” when I actually dared try to engage her. You were trying to placate your toddler boy and I could see your fraught face though I could not make out your words over the din of traffic and my own noise maker. We caught each others eye briefly as we waited for the green man to tell us we could continue the march to school and that is when, I think, we each saw ourselves in the other. Finally the beep as the green man appeared – the starter pistol telling us to get the banshees and go. Halfway across the road we met and I said “Something in the air?” just as you said “What’s up with the kids this morning?!”. You summed it up perfectly with your half joking, half deadly serious “GAAAAAAARGH!!!”.
For a few fleeting moments I had a comrade, a sister in arms, in you the perfect stranger and it made me smile in spite of myself (or, more accurately, in spite of bloody stroppy little madam to my right!).
I hope your day got better. Mine did, mainly thanks to bribery and Peppa Pig (not Dora the Explorer as after much brin wracking I now remember her to be the cause of the frackas in the first place!).
So as this is the first time I will ever get to write about Izzy’s first week BACK at school after the summer I thought it needed to be marked. To begin with I thought about a post about how, despite this being her second year, she still seemed so small going in. How the classroom was totally alien because instead of the handprints and paper plate face masks there was actual school WORK on the walls. How it was bigger than her old class and so made her look lost in the middle of it even in the din of 30 classmates and their parents bustling about noisily looking for pegs and drawers.
Then I thought I might add about how I blamed the hormones for getting choked up at the thought of my biggest princess, my first baby, growing up through the maze of school years, already one year behind her and a self-declared “big kid”.
But today we got her first piece of homework and we are currently an hour into it. And we haven’t even got to page two yet! My nerves are rattling trying to keep up with the “well done” and “clever girl” comments and sound enthusiastic. I actually want to take the pen and finish it off myself if I am honest. Truthfully what 5yr old comes home and wants to sit for over an hour doing homework? And I can’t say we will do it tomorrow because it requires her to remember the words of a story they told in class yesterday (yes we could try figuring out what words made sense in the blanks but I tried that to begin with and was informed “the old something planted a something” made no sense. She isn’t wrong but she is five so didn’t understand the concept of “filling in the blanks”.
And once we have done this she has a reading book and a phonics book to read over the weekend as well – and next weekend she will also have spellings to learn. Where is the time for running, jumping, climbing trees? For making the most of the end of summer? When do we get out the fingerpaints and dress up as princesses? “Get fit, get active!” they say. WHEN?! At only five years old I am seriously considering whether I ought to be introducing DSE assessments of the suitability of her home working environment to ensure she doesn’t get a bad back from sitting hunched over the table!
The next generation will be drones who get four years of play followed by a lifetime of hard labour (with minimal time for retirement), who have to eat their veg because lack of exercise makes the odd treat in their diet potentially lethal.
Actually do you know what, we have done a page of reading and writing on this stupid bloody homework and there is a weakening sunshine and moderate heat left in the garden – run free little one!!! The next 12 years (minimum) will be full of homework, an early finish tonight won’t hurt!