The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

And just like that

As bright as three shiny new pound coins, #1, 2 and 3 left the house, bounced down the road and around the corner, off to explore new places and be amazed by great things. 

It has been a long summer holiday for these three. A lot of change. A lot of moving around. A lot of waiting. But finally, a step towards normality. 

Filled with a good mix of nerves and excitement, #1 and 2 started their new Big School just a couple of days ago. Thrown right in at the deep end having never seen the inside of their new school before. What an adventure. And such bravery from them. For what else can be more nervewracking at that age than being the New Kid. The one that doesn’t know what is expected of them. 

  • What do I wear.
  • What’s my teacher called.
  • What do I put in my bag. (Actually this is more for me)
  • Where are the toilets.
  • What if I get scared.

Two years ago I was sending #1 and 2 off to Big School for the first time. They were fine. Two years later, I was sending them off again. They were fine. As I knew they would be. I took them to meet their new teachers, who were waiting to welcome them in class with big friendly smiles. I could feel their hesitation. A few more moments of delay. A few quiet words of nerves. ‘Mummy, I’m scared.’ I know sweetheart but you will have a brilliant day. And I will be waiting at the gates for you.

And of course they did. Brimming full of excitement and hardly believing their good fortune that for school lunch there was ice cream! Ice cream inside some kind of cake. Wow, that sounds exotic. Artic roll? 

The relief is palpable as I hear them excitedly chatter about their day. And the hug. That hug you get when they see you immediately after school. I’m so glad for the chance to get these hugs again. Those arms wrapped around you, filling you with warmth. Then it dissipates like steam and normality resumes. “I’m hungry Mummy.” “Can we go to the park? Whhhhy noooot!”

So you see, I’ve been through this before. I’ve done the whole starting school thing several times. I should be a Pro at this. I should be writing my Get Up and Go List with all three in Big School. Six hours a day of quiet time. Isn’t this what all parents have been waiting for? The countdown to the end of summer holidays and back to school. 

Yes that is quite true. When I was in Gainful   Employment, school marked a sigh of relief that their time was going to be properly occupied and I no longer had to wonder what to do with them outside of the annual leave Husband and I could take.

Equally, since giving up Gainful Employment I have enjoyed seeing their faces everyday. And not just for the last hour, half hour of the day. Some days have been looooong. Some moments of some days could be better but overall, I wouldn’t be without these days. Especially when I think about how fleeting every stage of their childhood can be.

Perhaps it’s because I know how fleeting it is, preparing #3 for Big School has been the hardest. Apparently it always is for the youngest one. Your last baby all grown up. The one you don’t mind crawling into your bed space in the middle of the night, long after the older ones slept all night in their bed. You don’t mind because you know one day it will stop, this little squidgey person snuggling up to you. And one day you want it to stop because they are taking up too much bed space. 

I always enjoyed shopping for school uniform. I think it’s because it was the only time you got so many new things at once! New clothes, new shoes, new bag and new stationery. It seems it’s just as much fun for #1, 2 and 3. (Less so on our pockets though. Three lots of uniform, school bags, PE kit, welly boots.) #2 and 3 have been wearing their new school shoes indoors for days! They are so proud to be wearing their new uniforms and they look so smart in them too.

It’s funny this whole Big School thing. Now that it’s the end of the day, I can laugh about it to myself. How this morning I could barely hug #3 closely and wish her a brilliant day before I could feel the tears threatening to fall. She had no doubt it was going to be ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. Yesterday we talked about how she felt about starting Big School, she was ready. Then she said “you’re going to cry Mummy.” Really? Why! “Because you’ll miss me.”

Ah. She got me there. 

The walk was barely long enough. The Goodbyes in the school yard all too brief. I help her place her bag on her peg and walk her into her new little world. It’s colourful, warm, fun and exciting. This is where #3 belongs. She’s waited patiently for today. For the uniform, the shoes, the friends, the learning. The learning. Constantly telling me that she doesn’t know how to read the words yet. I’m sure it won’t be long. 

I watch her through the window. Overhearing other parents talking about the Parent Syndrome. I have Parent Syndrome too. I wonder if #3 will look up and see me for one more wave. But of course she doesn’t. She’s looking around with a curious happy smile on her face in her smart new uniform and shiny shoes. Full of confidence. She’s looking happy. And then she moves out of sight and it’s time for me to move on. 

But before I do, the Teaching Assistant has already clocked another one with Parent Syndrome. She comes over and asks if  I’m ok, offering words of comfort and encouragement.  I feel even more ridiculous admitting #3 is #3 but she reassures me it’s all quite regular. 

There are days you cry out for ‘ME’ time. A quiet moment to sit down and have a hot cuppa tea uninterrupted. None of the multiple echoes of “Mummy, Mummy”, being able to get jobs done within half the time it takes with three in tow. Sort out boring admin jobs. Clean and tidy. Go out running. Have coffee. Find new cohorts. Regain Gainful Employment. Read a book. Do something new! 

Six hours seemed to pass by quite quickly before I’m back in the school yard. There’s #1 and #2. We go and collect #3 together. She’s all smiles and dishevelled curls. A sign of a brilliant day. 

Later on, we all ask her how she felt. She thinks about it. 

“I almost cried but then I was having too much fun.”
And that is why she’s ready to join in with the big kids.

 

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Teacher’s Appreciation Day 2014 – How to show your appreciation

It’s Teacher’s Appreciation Day today in Singapore and most of the local schools are closed giving pupils and Teacher’s a much appreciated day off.

I assume it’s not Teacher’s Appreciation Day in all countries, such as the UK with the new school year having just started a few days ago.

Why am I talking about this? Well, Teacher’s everywhere deserve our appreciation for taking our beloved offspring off our hands for half of their waking hours, five days a week and for weeks at a time. I’ve often said that school was invented to give parents and their children a break from each other.

Plus there’s the whole teaching them to read and write and do sums. I don’t know how they do it but #1 listens to his teachers and absorbs what they say. So why can’t he do the same at home? Why do I have to repeat myself endlessly over all things? And why when I give him some piece of information that I think is interesting and new his answer is ‘I know Mummy, I know that’.

The other reason I mention this is because it makes me That Mum again.

The one that doesn’t remember it is Teacher’s Day until arriving at school on the day.

The one that sends their children to school sans token of appreciation to all their teacher’s whilst Mrs Cake Pops has individually personalised handcrafted candles of the Teacher’s signature scent. I’m exaggerating of course but you get the picture between Prepared and Organised and well, just not.

The one that will never make it onto the elite Class Mum In Waiting training programme.

But not this year.

This year, I am Prepared and Organised.

#1 and 2 are bringing in homemade cookies and brownies all wrapped up neatly with handmade gift tags signed by #1 and 2.

In reality, #2 measures one or two ingredients and tips it into the mixing bowl. Followed by one or two stirs of the wooden spoon. Followed by one or two rolling out of cookie dough. Followed by one or two attempts at writing her name on the gift tags.

#1 didn’t even hold so much as a wooden spoon but did eventually write his name on all 15 gift tags.

I’m up past midnight because I didn’t get a chance to bake the brownies until after their bedtime as we chose to spend the afternoon at Mrs Imperturbable’s condo instead. Of course this was way more fun than having to ‘work’ at their Teacher’sDay gifts.

But that’s ok because this year I am Prepared and Organised!

This morning we arrive at school with our basket of goodies. #1 and 2 proudly announce they are cookies and brownies they helped to bake. I suppose both touched a utensil required at some point of the manufacturing process.

This morning I wasn’t That Mum.

I may get an interview for the Class Mum in Waiting Training Programme after all.

Some hours later and I’m on my way to get #1 and 2 from school because it’s a half day finish. My phone rings. It’s the School.

They’re just wondering if I’m aware it’s a midday pick up today so that the Teacher’s can head off early and enjoy their Teacher’s Day lunch.

No matter how good the cookies and brownies are, I’m sure they’d rather have their much appreciated half day off without #1 and 2 in tow who waste no time before telling me how such and such was picked up and they were still in class and then such and such was picked and they were still left in class.

Next year I’m going to be The Mum Who Reads The Whole Email.

As well as being Prepared and Organised of course.

Incidentally, so you’re much better Prepared and Organised, Teacher’s Appreciation Day for most countries is 5 October.

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