>> Friday, 29 August 2008
What to write about Boy #1 starting school?
Perhaps I should start with how grown-up and gorgeous he looks in his uniform; despite the fact that it is admirably practical and suitable for a 5 year old (none of that blazer and tie malarky), he manages to make it look like something out of the Boden catalogue (as my sis e-mailed me to say, after I sent her a photo on Wednesday).
Or, I could tell you about the queue of chattering mothers outside the school at pick-up time every afternoon, all talking ten to the dozen in about 50 different languages to each other, their younger children, or into their mobile phones. I might drop in how scarily stylish some of them are - as of this afternoon, it seems that my tattered black Birkenstocks are decidely last year. Perhaps I should unearth the pair of ballet pumps I bought at the beginning of the summer and threw in the back of the cupboard as too conservative. For some reason, they don't look so conservative on the other mummies - though of course that may have something to do with the fact they are accessorising skinny jeans and rock-chic biker jackets, and have Chanel logos stitched subtly on the front them... Oh yes, and that these mummies have size 8 butts... (that's 4 to our American cousins, and unacheivable to me)
I might tell you about Boy #2's quest to lose himself in the maze of classes whilst I try to deal with dropping off his brother in the morning, or about his refusal this afternoon to leave the house today to collect Boy #1 until I turned off all the lights and shut the door behind me. Of course, he called my bluff and still didn't budge from the train set. It was only when I kidnapped James the Red Engine that he climbed willingly into the car, gravely informing me as he did so that once he grows up he is no longer going to be a crane 'pilot', but that instead he will now be driving the Polar Express. All in single words, obviously.
"Not. Crane. Pilot. No way."
"No. Drive. Polar. 'Spress."
(You can see how George Orwell's reduced vocabularly in '1984' might work actually, when communicating with a 2 year old. I mean, I understood him perfectly...)
But I'm just beating around the bush, really. What really matters about the school Experiment is that Boy #1 is not impressed. Day 1: not good - as detailed a couple of posts ago. Day 2: rubbish. If you passed a woman sat in her car and weeping into her mobile at around 8.45am yesterday, that would have been me. Not a good look, obviously - especially in Chanel logo'd Chelsea. And today? Husband took him today, and he started the campaign early - probably realising that his most sympathetic audience was staying behind, so he better pull out all the stops whilst he could - crying and wailing before he even left the house. Obviously, as soon as he got in the car - and out of my earshot - he was fine...
Now, I know that once he's in class he's alright. I know this, because we have had similar experiences before when he was at nursery, both when he originally started, and then in diminishing levels at the start of every term. It being nursery, however, I was allowed to remain outside the room whilst he settled, so I saw it for myself.
But he's at Big School now. And they don't have time for mothers to sneakily peek around the corner to check that their children are starting to regain their equilibrium. And to be honest, with Boy #2 to deal with, this mother doesn't really have the option of doing that, in any case.
So I will have to take it in good faith when at handover during school pick-up his teacher tells me Boy #1 has had fun today. In the car, on the way home, I'm reduced to asking leading questions like a second-rate detective to try and ascertain if this is, in fact true. So, what did you do? I heard you enjoyed gym - where did you have that? Do you know anybody's name yet? He sounds nice.... And so on. It's scary, doing this. It reminds me of conversations with my own mother when I started new schools, and how at the time, I never realised how much my one-word answers mattered to her...
I know he'll be fine. It's an adjustment period, that's all. And so when Boy #1 is uncharacteristically quiet, moody, or argumentative, I remind myself that he's trying to come to terms with the fact that life has changed irrevocably - without his permission - and that there is nothing he can do about it.
I would be pretty mad in those circumstances, too.