Eleven months ago, my little girl put on her red gingham summer dress, shiny shoes and a huge smile, and went to school for the first time. Today, wearing a bigger red gingham dress, and her second pair of shiny shoes, she held my hand and skipped with me to her last day of Reception.
I am a proud Mummy today. She has had an amazing year. Helped by brilliant, caring teachers, and some how surviving my rages and tears and inability to tie a plait or remember to always order her school lunches, she has flourished. From barely knowing her alphabet she can now read and write and loves nothing more than to spend her free time doing both, when she isn’t doing sums or making robots out of cardboard boxes.
She started the year clinging to one friend and now she has a dozen or more. Although she spent her last morning, like her first, standing by the teaching assistant, there were no tears and I walked out with a happy smile.
It’s hard for a parent to relinquish their child to school. There is difference of opinion, there is letting go. There is dealing with, “but Mummy you’re not a teacher, so you don’t know anything” and “teacher says we have to do this…” There are constant rules, about uniform and behaviour, hair clips and pack lunches, but, frustrating as they are sometimes, the rules are what make it work. It’s about becoming part of a community, working towards a common goal. No wonder it feels new.
I have also started my school journey this year, and I found it as hard. Many times I wanted to relinquish my responsibility and let go, to enrol in breakfast club, after school club, to go back to the world of suits and coffee breaks and feeling like I know stuff, (instead of, “no, Mummy, you’re wrong!”) But I signed up to be a school run mum. It is important to me.
That isn’t a judgement. If I had an office job that I loved, even if that didn’t let me do the school run, that would be amazing too. My daughter has asked to go to breakfast club, and next year possibly she will. But there are few ‘achievements’ for a stay-at-home-writer-mummy. Dropping a happy child in her classroom this morning, skipping the last 100 yards (to applause from a random stranger, which made the knee pain worthwhile), even though I forgot the beautiful handmade cards for the other teachers my daughter wants to thank, made me feel like I’d earned my own gold star.
The summer will fly by, and before long we’ll be getting more shiny shoes and trying on new gingham dresses. But this time I’ll be excited, for her and for me. I think about the Dr Seuss story, ‘Oh the places you’ll go,’ and I know that school is giving her, and me, the ability to move mountains.