Last year, the oldest was making his first big leap between schools – from Infant to Junior. Despite our best efforts it was fraught with worry for him, and as we waited at the gate, he got more and more emotional (read about it here: New School Nerves – All Different, All the Same). I’ve found that in general, both the boys will regularly react completely differently than I expected them to in a given situation; some I guess right, and some come out of nowhere. Overnight stay away from Mummy for the first time? No problem. Hand dryers? Arggghhhh! I’ve discovered it is quite impossible to predict my children – but I try anyway.
In the last couple of weeks of holiday, the oldest did say he was feeling nervous about moving up into Year 4. What if there are children in his class he doesn’t know, and they’re unkind? What if the work is too hard? What if his new teachers are too strict? We’ve tried to talk through all the worries and put them to rest, but still, I assumed that Wednesday – the first day back at school – would carry some degree of apprehension, as all the other first days back have so far. But once again, I was completely off the mark.
There’s very little room for manoeuvre in our school run routine. The little one he has to be dropped off at his infants’ school first, leaving us with a tiny 10 minute window between 8:40 and 8:50 to get up to the Junior school and into class before the doors slam shut, and you’re officially late. We managed to be on time every single school run last year, and the possibility of being late didn’t even enter my head on Wednesday morning – until I saw the queue out of the Year 1 door at 8:30. Everyone had turned up, many with an entourage of grandparents, to see their children into a new class. I held my place in line and tapped my feet, watching the minutes tick by until it was 8:35…into the cloakroom, locate the new peg, hang PE kit and stuff the wellies underneath, back in line…8:40, into the classroom, greet lovely teachers, find tray for book bag, find water bottle box, find snack box… 8:45, a hurried kiss goodbye (another time I’ve failed to predict my children here – I thought the little one would be upset at the quick goodbye, but he was happy as Larry. Pfft), then out of the door, pick up the bike, and off down the road.
I’m not at my physical peak at the end of the school holidays; six weeks of no routine, and, I confess, dietary indulgence (not to mention a week on holiday with food and drink literally on tap) do nothing for my personal fitness. A literal school run on the first day back was not what I’d had in mind; more a measured stride up to the doors, followed by a kind but firm kiss goodbye, and a promise that all would be well.
What we had was a top-speed cycle ride, with me puffing along behind, getting redder and redder, and arriving at the classroom door with about 30 seconds to spare.
Much relieved that we had made it, my little hero dropped his bike and leaped through the door to find his new peg, with a big smile and a casual “Bye!” thrown over his shoulder. It seems all of those chats and reassurances had actually worked – and the adrenalin, and the excitement, meant he hadn’t even had time to think about getting worried.
So while it wasn’t the start I’d had planned, perhaps it was exactly what he needed. I can’t predict my children, but sometimes it turns out better than I ever hoped. I’m now waiting for the karmic balance to be restored – some hysterical reaction to something I never expected must be just round the corner!