To the other mum at the traffic lights…

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!).

TTFN xxxx

Advertisements

School… The Return

PhotoGrid_1441302176270So 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!

TTFN xxxx

The anxious mothers guide to… the first year at school

Here we are approaching the end of reception year at school and guess what… We survived! But for every mummy patting herself on the back for a job reasonably well done (well they don’t have to be on time EVERY day, do they???) there is another one bracing herself to take the plunge. So I have put together a Bear Grylls style survival guide to help those with pre-first year jitters get through it.

1. Stock up on vitamins…

I learned this one too late. Whereas parents of preschool children would keep a sick child at home the fearsome rules surrounding school absences have made our kids’ head teachers and attendance officers even scarier than they were “in our day”. All too often this year I have heard the phrase “if they are that ill the teacher will send them home”. This is true, but sadly not before your pooey, sickie, rashy child has spread their germs all round the classroom. Each time I have been told so and so got sick in class I know what is coming next. The following week my eldest has her head in a bucket, followed by my youngest, followed inevitably by my good self! And what happens when my child gets sick, has a temperature or has tonsilitis and is only capable of sleep? I keep her off (obviously) and then get really nasty letters home about her absences. So my first piece of advice is a lesson learned the hard way – get those immune systems toughened up or face the consequences!

2. Invite friends over early on

When September kicked off my first fortnight was spent listening to regularly repeated names which were then invited over for a playdate with a princess doll cake, dressing up and football. Friendship was established and while some drifted off into their own new cliques others have remained steadfast – either way my little girl’s first month ended with friends having been made and I ended her first month assured that she did not sit in the playground alone.

3. Learn the teachers names!

We have been through three teachers this year and nothing gets me moaned at more than getting the teachers name wrong (in fairness she now has two part time teachers and nobody has told me which days each of them work so how am I supposed to know who said what and when???)

4. Accept your child is growing up… Too fast

I have listened to my daughters friends saying “Bye mum” and “Mum where is my lunch box?” and it occurred to me only this morning that I may have limited “mummy” time left before I too am shortened to the lesser cute moniker of “mum”. It clawed at my stomach but I know it is coming. It is just a matter of when.

5. THERE WILL BE SCHOOL TRIPS!!!

Yes, your baby is going to be going places without you, sometimes on big scary coaches and miles away. Repeat after me… He/she WILL be fine. I SUSPECT, given my current tailspin about this one, that this particular fear is ongoing, at least while they are small enough that you still expect them to hold your hand (after all they aren’t taking 70 adults along on the trip with 140 kids so there will definitely not be enough hands available!) but remember your munchkin is undoubtedly nervous too and the first time has to happen some time so it might as well be <gulp!> in two weeks’ time…

6. Not every child is a genius

That’s right, I am talking to you. Your child will get their letters back to front and upside down, they will add together 4 and 5 and get seven and when they pick up a recorder it will sound… Well, horrendous, obviously (though I suspect even a musical genius couldn’t make that particular instrument sound good). That is fine, just be happy with sociable, happy, well adapted and on target for this year. We can work on the genius bit later (or if that fails there is always the second child to fall back on!).

7. Prepare for attitude

It is inevitable they will meet someone with a big mouth inherited from their gobby mother or father and they will undoubtedly try similar lip on you to see how it goes down at home. Rise above it. The rules of combat are the same throughout – terrible two, thoroughly-horrible three, fearsome four. Whatever has worked in the past will work now… Eventually. Just remember more is more. More time out. More trips to the naughty step. More sitting down and explaining why it is unacceptable behaviour and, thanks to their new school child status, more understanding of why it is unacceptable as well. Hopefully this stage seems to be the shortest lived (don’t quote me on that just yet, it is early days still!) and rarely involves children rolling around on the floor screaming so us veterans of the terrifying toddler years will find this bit a doddle!

So that is my survival guide for now but anyone who wants to add their invaluable advice is more than welcome to… After all, we are all learning on the job!

TTFN xxxx