This week my daughter started school. She’s the eldest so it’s been a case of popping my cherry when it comes to this particular milestone and you never really know how you’re going to feel about it until it happens. I thought there might be tears – me not her – but when it came to it, I was dry eyed. The absence of tears wasn’t because I wasn’t emotional, or because I was doing a happy dance at my freedom every weekday between the hours of 9am and 3pm, but because I was excited.
When your kid starts school, it’s epic for so many reasons. Here’s a list (brain dump) of all the amazing, positive and game-changing outcomes that emerge once you send your kid through those school gates.
- Less laundry – they’re not at home to go through three costume changes and half a bowl of spaghetti bolognese down their top. Yes, the uniform may come back unrecognisably covered in various unidentifiable shit stains but it’s still only one outfit and that’s better than washing three outfits.
- All of their normal clothes aren’t stained to shit. I have a drawer of ‘nursery’ clothes because the nursery staff don’t seem to give a fuck if they throw paint all over themselves. ‘If they come home dirty, they’re happy,’ they say. Yeah, well I’d say that too if I didn’t have to spend my evening getting paint out of every item of clothing. This way, it’s the school uniform that gets stained. I’m ok with that.
- They’re exhausted. Like really tired. You know those days once in a while where the stars align and you get the kids outside and running around all day because they’ve decided not to be dicks and demand Paw Patrol every five minutes and then you get them home and the fresh hair has basically comatosed them and they can’t even walk straight? Yeah…it’s that kind of tired.
- You’ve got something to talk to them about. It’s hard to make conversation with a four year old at the best of times, but when you’re with them every minute of the day and you literally know their every moment and waking thought…there’s not a lot to converse about. Of course, they’ll be too tired to talk about it and they’ll tell you they did nothing and they don’t remember, but it’s a start on the path to conversation around the dinner table.
- Barring serious illness, nuclear fallout or the apocalypse you can be assured that between the hours of 9-3 they are not your responsibility. Best keep your phone on though…you know, just in case.
- They will grow. They will start to become the person they are going to be. I know we can all feel sad that they aren’t going to be our babies anymore, and I do feel a bit of that, but mostly I’m just so fucking excited to see what and who she turns into. I’m excited to see if she’s as good an artist as she seems to be, whether maths or english is her thing. Is she creative? Will she love reading (god, I hope she loves reading…not this blog obvs).
- They will make real friends. Some of these friends will be the friends she keeps for life. These will be the friends I’ll have at my house for dinner some nights, for sleep overs. These will be the friends my daughter confides in, bares her soul to and grows up with. These might be the friends we end up taking on holiday with us when she’s in her early teens. They’ll be the friends she gets hammered with for the first time…erm, ok. On reflection, not so excited about that one.
- Maybe I’ll make some friends? I’m not pinning any hopes on this one. To be honest, the ‘school gate’ stories I’ve heard make it sound more like Kill Bill with knives flying every which way, but maybe I’ll get lucky and meet the mum who doesn’t much care what other people think, who’s always got a smile on and who’s just as likely to turn up in a onesie as she is suited and booted.
- She will be challenged. Not just academically but emotionally and by someone else except me. I’ve loved being responsible for all that shit but I’m ready to share that burden with someone. It’s not an easy job – it tends to end in a lot of shouting and screaming. I’m ok if someone else has to take some of that off my plate during the working week. It’s also great for her to get another perspective – she’s as bored of me telling her to share and to be kind as I am of saying it. Let’s shake this all up a little.
- I might be able to improve my maths? Seriously, beyond adding up and a bit of light subtraction, my maths is solely dependent on the calculator. If she can help me out a bit with some long division down the line then surely that’s a good thing?
- I’m hoping there’s less stuff covered in glitter for me to ‘file’ (read: put in the bin). I’m not sure about this one because it’s early days, but I’m thinking that most of the shite they create that people insist on calling ‘art’ and ‘pictures’ (look just like a soggy pile of shit covered in glitter to me) will end up on walls and in displays rather than in my car excreting glitter and on my fridge falling off every time I reach for the damn milk.
- I’m going to appreciate the time I spend with her more. This is know to be true. It’s hard remembering to cherish every second when you spend every goddamn second with them. I can’t think of a single person on the face of the planet that I wouldn’t want to throttle if I had to spend as much time with them as I do with my kids. Not that I want to throttle them (much) but you know, it’ll be nice to know the time we spend together will be quality rather than quantity.
Of course, my list is flippant and occasionally facetious but it isn’t wrong. Your heart is going to break when you watch them walk off in a uniform a size too big for them and a slightly trepidatious spring in their step. You’ll mourn the time you don’t get to spend with them but essentially, this is a move forward and in my experience forward moves are generally ones to embrace.
So, while you’re sobbing in the car after you’ve dropped them off remember the good stuff, the funny stuff, the things that you are both going to gain from this experience. As we say to the kids 1,234 times a day, ‘sharing is caring’. Share your kid with this world…who knows what they’ll do.