It’s fair to say that I spent the last year burying my head in the sand about Max starting school. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would happily have kept him home with me for much longer, and that I didn’t really feel he was ready. My little boy just wasn’t grown up enough to be heading off to school 5 days a week!
Over the summer, I put so much effort into making sure that Max was ready. I read all those lists of things that your child should be able to do before starting school, and we worked on each thing slowly. Can use cutlery? Check. Can recognise their own name? Check. Can wipe their bottom? Check (although he’d still rather mummy did it for him).
Every time we walked past the school, we’d wave and say “hello Max’s school”.
There was uniform to buy and label, school shoes to buy, book bags to buy, hair to be cut. I even made sure we were prepared for the first day of school photo meltdown and took him out the previous week to take some. I thought we were so prepared!
But when the reality hit, I realised that I’d completely failed to prepare myself. I’d spent all my time and effort preparing Max, that I’d totally forgotten to make sure that I was ready for it all. I had been expecting to miss him, but I’d thought that having his brother at home with me would make that easier. What took me by surprise was that I didn’t just miss him while he was at school, I missed him when he got home too. Because when he came out of school, the happy little boy that I recognised was not the one I picked up. He was so exhausted by school that I brought home the demon version of him. First there was the ravenous hunger, demanding snacks, sandwiches, and dinner. Then come the tantrums, taking us right back to the terrible twos. He’s struggled with his speech for so long, but suddenly it was so much worse, he was stuttering over every word of a sentence, trying desperately to get the words out. And then when it was too much of a struggle, giving up and saying, “You say it Mummy”. Every time that happened my heart broke for him.
I’ve found the change in routine really difficult to handle. Instead of the days out I would do before school started, I find that we have to stick much closer to home these days, to be home in time for pick up. In fact, Ben and I have hardly ventured out at all. By the time we’ve got back from the school run, it feels like it’s time for lunch, then a nap, then we only have a few minutes together before we need to head out of the door for pick up! The morning just runs away with us, and then I’m on edge the whole afternoon, clock watching, to make sure I don’t accidentally miss it and leave poor Max there, waiting for me.
Then there’s the sheer amount of admin that comes with school. My phone has never been so busy with notifications (and I’m a blogger!). It’s pinging the whole day! There’s the class WhatsApp group, the Facebook group, the newsletters, the notes home, the party invitations. Every day is a flurry of new messages and things to remember. Remember to take the PE kit into school, remember the tins for harvest festival, to sign the reading record (and read the book in the first place!). I feel like I’m back at school myself, except this time, instead of being a star student, I’m failing! The most ridiculous thing is that I thought I’d be a pretty good school mum – I’ve always been pretty organised, plus I don’t have an office job, so I figured I’d have the time to get these things prepared. But somehow I’m still not managing it – it’s only the constant WhatsApp messages that have made sure that Max doesn’t wear his school uniform on PE day, or miss the mufti day.
By the skin of our teeth, we made it to half term and we all managed to relax for a bit. We’ve managed a few days out, but it’s mostly been filled with time together at home – watching films, and doing some baking. But one week just isn’t long enough. I feel I’ve just about got my happy boy back – I’m not ready to send him off to school again!
How long until the Christmas holidays…?