We are halfway to the October half term holiday now, and by and large the move to junior school has gone well for our eldest. He’s happy to go in the mornings (unless he thinks of something else he’d rather be doing), and has plenty to tell us in the evenings about what he’s enjoyed – as long as we approach him with some carefully-placed questions (because “what did you do today?” NEVER does the trick). But a few facts have come to light through the journey so far that have been of interest to me.

1 – My son has a limited sense of personal responsibility

…which is something of a shock. I thought he was quite a careful child, but he’s lost a jumper already – a clearly labelled school jumper that is at least two sizes smaller than everyone else’s, so it’s highly unlikely that someone else has taken it by accident. I’ve been hopefully through the Lost Property cupboard, but no joy. I was quite amused to discover that it smells just like Lost Property cupboards I remember from my own youth, though – it’s always nice to discover constants in this ever-changing world, even if they are a bit musty.

2 – They are expected to have more personal responsibility than this

…which I like. I’ve noticed that the children are reminded by teachers regularly that they themselves are in charge of remembering their homework, their possessions, their cycle helmets, and being where they are supposed to be at different times of the day. And this manifested itself only yesterday morning, the day of the Big Trip to the Zoo, when I was hurried up the road to make sure we got there in time for the coach. I’m very much on board with the increased responsibility – this can only be good news for the jumpers – but I do foresee nagging in my future, as he makes sure I’M doing what he thinks I should be doing. Hm.

3 – Music education has certainly moved on

…which was quite a body-blow. I remember being played classical music and finding out about things like the Carnival of the Animals, and Peter and the Wolf  in my music lessons – occasionally raising a reedy tune to some Cats classics in singing sessions. Imagine my surprise when our son announced he is learning about Michael Jackson’s catalogue of contributions to the annals of musical history – including singing a choral version of Beat It, and watching the full video to Black or White – in which he was delighted to see Kevin McAllister from Home Alone! If all that doesn’t make me feel old…goodness, I was older than he is now when Black and White was released, and I got a cassette of the Bad album for Christmas when I was eight…

4 – As a parent, the lessons bit is the easy part

…which is a surprise. As a child, I always thought of the school bit – in particular, having new sums to tackle – as being the difficult stuff. But from a parent’s perspective, his time in the classroom is the least of my worries. I can help with the work, talk to his teachers, do extra things at home if we need to. But playtime? Making new friends? Making sure everyone is playing fair in the playground? Keeping an eye on the ones I don’t quite trust? Not a thing I can do. Just help him deal with things after they’ve happened; and I have to say, the school have been brilliant in addressing problems as they’ve arisen.

I am resolved to the feeling most of these discoveries are simply facts of life now, but some are easier to swallow than others; and I have a feeling that the last one is only going to get tougher for us as he gets older…!

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