I realised today, as I sobbed in fear over the ironing board and my daughter’s new uniform, that I’m just as stressed about her starting school tomorrow as she is. And for all the same reasons.
I’m scared about getting something wrong, being told off, wearing or saying the wrong thing, not knowing anyone or where things are.
It’s like going back to school myself, only not, because I loved school. It was where I didn’t get shouted at for being lazy or making a mistake, unlike at home.
I was a Straight-A student, helped by being an October baby so one of the oldest in the year. I liked getting stuff marked and I loved learning. I was bullied, but I hid in the library or worked through my lunch break. I had plenty of friends, well until we all discovered boys.
Actually I think I only lost my self-esteem and confidence when I started dealing with boys and humiliated myself left and right – having never worked out how to make my father happy. Hopefully my little girl won’t have that problem at least (she has Daddy wrapped around her little finger).
But now? I’ve spent a year listening to the mum’s at coffee morning sharing horror stories about school – returning forms to the wrong place and getting shouted at my the receptionist or told off by the teacher, miscommunication between staff over bullying, needing to escalate problems to the Head.
These are not things that play to my strengths. If the receptionist tells me off, I’ll cry. I’d rather pull teeth than make a fuss (though maybe if my child is being bullied I’ll grow a backbone) and I’m rubbish at forms and fitting in.
Also it’s a C of E (Church of England) school and I couldn’t even bring myself to go to family service today. I’m not an atheist but I’m not a huge one for organised religion either (I do like C of E schools, though, for the sense of community and doing the right thing).
Needless to say, hubbie is taking our daughter in on her first day tomorrow, thus avoiding me increasing her nervousness by my own fear, or upsetting her by getting defensive when she tells me I should have let her wear a skirt (as I’ve discovered her best friend will be.) Evil Mummy only bought pinafore dresses because I thought they’d look smarter and she wouldn’t have to keep tucking herself in. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow?
(In my defense, especially as she hasn’t got the blue cardigan she wanted either, there was meant to be a second-hand stall in the summer but I got no communication about it and I didn’t want to buy anything else new!)
Ah well, life is about conquering our fears. I just never realised there would be so many as a parent! I couldn’t home school (my daughter refuses to even let me teach her how to write her letters) so there aren’t many other options. And she’ll love it, I know she will. It’s probably just as well we decided against the public school for now. At least I’m not wondering if I should be wearing Boden when I pick her up at lunch time!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Come on, Josh, I want to go on the jet boat. Where else can I go in a boat that works in only centimetres of water? Stop being a worrywart, I’m fine.”
Claire tugged at his hand, feeling flashbacks of trying to convince Sky to do something she didn’t want to do. Seeing the stubborn look on his face, she dropped his hand and folded her arms.
“Fine. Although I’m surprised that someone who laughed at me for not jumping off a waterfall is worried about a stupid speed boat. You’ve got old and boring.”
She turned away, but watched him out of the corner of her eye; trying to analyse his expression. She hadn’t even been that interested in doing the jet boat ride – that afternoon’s suggested high adrenalin activity – until Josh said he thought she should give it a miss. In his best preachy doctor voice, he had advised her to rest after her near-drowning.
Despite explaining at length that she hadn’t been anywhere near drowning, he had insisted. It was like being with Michael all over again.
Why do people feel the need to wrap me in cotton wool? I’m not such a pathetic or fragile creature.
“You coming, Claire?” Bethan called, as the group split into those going jet boating and the ones remaining behind to horse ride or catch up on sleep.
Claire threw one last look at Josh and, ignoring the knot in her stomach, ran after Bethan. “Definitely. Sounds like fun.”
As they walked away, Bethan turned to look back. “Isn’t Sir Galahad coming? I thought Aussies were as keen to try and kill themselves as the Kiwis are?”
“He’s sulking because I won’t follow his doctor advice and rest after my near-death experience this morning.”
Bethan threw her head back and laughed, her long black hair flying out behind her. “Near death? You capsized a kayak in three feet of still water. Oh dear, he has got it bad, hasn’t he?”
Claire pursed her lips and they walked the rest of the way in silence.
Claire screamed as the boat swung close to the rocks; the gorge towering overhead and blocking out the sun. Spray splashed over them, drenching Claire and drowning out her laughter. She clung onto the seat as the driver twisted the boat away just as it seemed about to crash. Her head jerked with the motion and she felt a sharp pain as something pulled in her neck.
Damn, don’t let me get whiplash, I’ll never hear the end of it from Josh.
Gritting her teeth, Claire massaged the muscle then quickly grabbed at the seat in front as the boat span three-hundred and sixty degrees before tunnelling through the water across to the other side of the gorge.
Ahead she could see the driver grinning, his teeth flashing bright white against his dark tan. Wraparound shades covered his eyes and he had one arm resting along the side of the jet boat, as he nonchalantly span the wheel.
Walls of white rose on either side as the boat bumped over the river; every jolt running through Claire and ripping at her neck, until tears mingled with the spray on her cheeks.
Around her the landscape unrolled in brilliant detail: the deep blue river stretching like a ribbon through the high walls of the gorge, the colours rendered sharp by the afternoon sun. It was a far cry from sea kayaking with seals that morning.
Although I think I’m probably as wet. Maybe Josh was right, maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, though I’m not going to tell him that.
Warming her torn muscles with one hand, Claire clung on with the other and willed the ride to finish soon. Only the knowledge of having to face Josh and his smug “I told you so” when they got back made her glad to still be in her seat.
My trip of a lifetime is starting to turn sour. I can’t get off the bus, because I can’t afford to travel any other way now. I can’t seem to get rid of Josh, which a few months ago would have been amazing, but is now a literal pain in the neck. I just want to go home.
Letting the spray conceal her tears, Claire gave in to the wave of self-pity washing over her.