The first day at school, and all the things they didn’t do

WHAT a long, long day that revolved around the first day (two hours) at school. I’m drained, both physically and emotionally.

Physically from hauling my overly jolly self around soft play in a bid to fill the endless morning until drop-off at 12.50pm, and emotionally from trying to keep up the overly jolly pretence and not let my welling-up eyes spill over.

We were asked if it was time to put the uniform on and go to school on repeat from around 7.30am, and suddenly the afternoon session seemed even worse than when I’d only considered the logistics of someone getting Santi there every day while we’re in work. He just couldn’t wait to go. By 11am some children would be finishing their first half day at school – we still had nearly an hour before we could queue to get in. Of course, I was pleased that he was so excited, but when he asked if there were trampolines in his class we were both a bit worried that he was expecting too much!

We ended up resorting to soft play just to get out of the house – a risky move that could have resulted in him getting too tired and burning out the ball of energy he seemed to have consumed for breakfast. Luckily we avoided meltdown, just – there was a touch and go moment when it looked like he wouldn’t leave the house without his uniform – and played happily for an hour before lunch.

It was finally time to leave the house (we were even early, which never happens), and as we pulled into the car park I had butterflies in my stomach. I think Santi did too, as he held my hand in his, and put his other hand around my arm so I couldn’t go further than a couple of inches from him. It’s funny because mostly he’s a daddy’s boy, but at times like this it’s me he wants. It’s lovely, but I was so close to tears it nearly pushed me over the edge.

We stopped to watch the older  children in the yard, and they seemed so big. I know they can’t be older than 10, but there was such a difference between them and the littlest ones heading in for their first day. Santi watched them playing hide and seek and running around, and asked if they were his new friends.

As we queued up we spotted a friend of mine and her little boy, who Santi knows from play dates. They chatted away together, laughing at silly made-up words, and made me so relieved that they were happy to see each other. They held hands as we walked to their classroom (so, so sweet), and went in together to hang their bags up.

There was barely even a backwards glance as they walked in, and I just managed to steal a kiss, which was probably wiped off as soon as my back was turned. I couldn’t have been more relieved and proud – it was exactly as I’d hoped, but didn’t stop my eyes from filling up yet again. I’m not sure when I got so soft. All the children seemed to be going in happily, but Santi told my mother later that there were children who were crying. I don’t know how I’d have coped if he’d been upset going in.

I met up with our group of baby mums for a coffee, and we spent most of the two hours talking about our little ones, and how they’re not really so little any more. It’s so strange that they were all just a few weeks old when we met, and now they’re heading off to school in uniform. It’s funny how conversations between friends change at different stages of your life. I never ever would have expected to be sitting in Costa discussing name labels!

When it came to pick-up time we experienced our first wet school run. We thought it would be nice to walk, so Santi could get some fresh air but we ended up getting pretty soaked as it suddenly started to rain. Typical. As we queued up with all the other parents, I was that mother trying to catch a glimpse of him through the window. I hope I wasn’t the only stalker mother in line! I’d love so much to be a fly on the wall and to watch him interact with his new classmates.

When we eventually got to the front he came running out with his bag on his back, asked immediately for his green “peggy doll” and ran back in to show his teacher. I’m pretty sure he’s the only child to go back in to school on his first day! They quickly said that he’d been fine and that was that.

We didn’t get much out of him at first, and I didn’t want to make a big deal by asking loads of questions even though I was desperate to know how it went. We found out he’d sat by his friend, went for a wee on his own, and that there were lots of toys. He told me at bedtime that they’d also played shops (he was the shopkeeper and his friend was the “bucket holder”), he’d played in a house that had no roof or chimney, and they’d had circle time when the teacher kept saying “shhh” (I’m not sure if it was directed at Santi, or the class in general).

I was also filled in on all the things they didn’t do – no painting, no drawing, no playing outside. I told him there would be plenty of time for that, and he asked if he would be going back to his school. I hope his excitement lasts, and this wasn’t just a one-off.

He also told me that he thought the would be going on an egg hunt, but they didn’t. I have no idea where that came from, and we ended up having a bit of a discussion about why it’s not Easter now, and if it was Easter on the ship (we did an egg hunt before our cruise in April). Of course we did.

My heart sank when he said he’d have to say sorry to his best friend in nursery for going to school. I couldn’t bring myself to say his friend won’t be in nursery anymore because he’s gone to school full time. Santi will still be in nursery two mornings a week, and doesn’t know that most of his friends won’t be there now. How can I break it to him without upsetting him? So much change for a little person.

I’d like to say I’m less emotional about the whole thing now, but it’s still sinking in. I’m relieved, but still worried that the excitement will fade and the upheaval of going from nursery to school two days a week and leaving Ezra to play with my mother or Stew’s will be too much. It’s a mother’s job to worry, as they say, so at least I know I’m getting that right.

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