Diaries Magazine

17 Years at the School Gates: What I Have Learned So Far....

Posted on the 09 August 2014 by Ellenarnison @Ellen27
My baby, he's all grown up. It doesn't seem a minute since... Yada yada yada. 

You know the stuff - uttered by runny-mascaraed mothers waving children off to school before returning to their bleak and echoy nests.  Boy Three goes to primary school this week - the last of my babies to put on the uniform and clamber aboard the big yellow bus. He can't wait and, frankly, neither can I. He's ready - he's desperate to learn to read and catch up with the bigger kids. 
It seems a very long time since Boy One first took his miniature seat in a classroom. That's probably because it is - he started school back in 2004! I didn't even have a blog back then, but then neither did many other people. 

Since then, I've been to 20 parents' nights, 10 sports days and a decade of Christmas shows, nagged children into hundreds of hours of homework, washed gazillion loads of uniform and never once backed for a cake stall. 

As Boy Three starts on his primary school journey, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned along the way. 

Consider who you're going to befriend. I'm not a terribly sociable person and I don't have limitless time and energy for being chums with everyone. Therefore it's better to make friends with the school staff than the other mums. You'll probably see more of the teachers than you will of the other parents, unless you're destined to be friends, in which case it won't be any effort at all. 

Consider who you're going to befriend #2. The school secretary. 

Don't join any committees, help out often instead. Unless, of course, you dream of being a PTA office bearer. I'm delighted to lend a hand whenever I can. In fact, I consider it a duty for the good of an excellent school. 

Don't panic. If something happens that makes you wish your own mommy could come and take over, don't worry. We all feel like that at some point. Whatever's causing you anxiety or upsetting your child will be one step closer to a resolution by talking to someone. Go and ask the teacher/another parent/the secretary/head, you'll be surprised by how easy it is once you take the step. 

School isn't the same as it was in our day. Really. Things like composite classes and being picked for additional support are all part of today's primary life. Assessment, smaller groups and more classroom assistants mean the school knows far more about your child than anyone ever knew about us. It's a good thing. Relax, you are in professional hands. 

An indelible marker will become your friend, but stuff will still get lost. Don't spend lots of money on anything and, where possible, buy duplicates while you're at it. Buy non-iron stuff and hang things up so they don't crease. While your child is still young enough for you to get away with this, buy items (coats etc) that are as distinctive as possible - you have no idea how many similar black parkas will be dropped on cloakroom floors the first time it gets cold. 

Calories will trump nutrition for a while. School days are long and hungry for growing kids. Lunch can be a distracting and disorientating affair. A couple of times I realised that my boys simply needed to eat more to get them through the day. Survival tactics have included pockets full of jam sandwiches, chocolate milk drinks and bananas handed to them the minute they stepped off the bus. 

Don't bother pretending you're not crying at the nativity. Everyone else is.

Zen and the art of parenthood. There are some things about life as a primary school parent that simply aren't worth fighting, you won't be able to change them:
  • Children will bring more junk home from school "fayres" than you can donate to the tombola.
  • You can't get rid of that smell.
  • The clothes won't be clean. 
  • The shoes will be scuffed. 
  • The important note will be discovered too late at the bottom of the bag. 
  • A pile of 'art' will arrive home at the end of term. 
  • Your tiny little beginner will surely turn into one of those big, bold children all ready for secondary school and there's not a thing you can do about it. 

17 years at the school gates: what I have learned so far....

It only seems like a minute ago, but he's growing up already.

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