Sad (or School Allocation Day)

17 Apr

School run

The last few days have been anxious ones for parents as they waited for news of where their little darlings will start their formative years in education. Primary school allocation day. Nerves have not been so frayed since this year’s mamas and papas twisted their hair and scuffed their Doc Martens waiting for exam results. The anxiety isn’t helped by what is seen to be a complicated (and seemingly random) allocation system. It’s another challenge on the rocky, emotional road that is parenting.

The wait between the application deadline and allocation date is a long one – three months. Quite what is happening during this period is uncertain. One can only imagine that FBI checks are being run, dustbins rifled through and shopping habits scrutinised. We were delighted to get our first choice (thanks to our close proximity to the school) but we still had three long months of not daring to count our chickens. Of course, none of the available schools are ‘bad’ but they do each have a different ‘feel’ that you need to be happy with. (Obviously, my choice was not at all swayed by the Convenience (C) equation: C = X + Y, where X equals eXtra time in bed and Y equals Years of life spent on same stretch of pavement making sure kids don’t run into the road or step in dog poop.)

I wasn’t prepared for how emotional today would be. Once the initial excitement of getting the school we wanted had passed, the significance of the moment started to set in. My little girl would be going to school. Really, truly. I even shed a tear or two, something I had not expected to do until she actually starts school. Four months of blubbing beckons for me as the build-up to September starts: buying her uniform, the school visits before the summer holidays, choosing a pencil case … Another chapter in my life as a parent is well and truly opening.

Am I ready for it? Excuse the selfishness but I think the girl will be fine – after all, her excitement today was focused around the colour of the uniform. The prospect of structure, PE and making new friends hardly factors. So back to me. Life is going to change. What are my concerns?

  • Can I accept that my daughter is growing up? Will I start dressing my 2-year-old son as a baby again and push him around in a pram in a desperate attempt to keep at least one of my kids needing me. (Buying a cat is also an option here.)
  • Will my precarious self-esteem survive life at the school gates? Will it be a bed of roses or the snake pit I’m led to believe it is?
  • How the jiggins will I cope with having to feed her tea every day of the week? I currently struggle with being imaginative twice a week. Does tinned mackerel constitute a balanced diet? (The aforementioned cat would be in for a treat at least.)
  • Will I be required to only leave the house in full make-up, possibly purchase Ugg boots, and, worst of all, join the ranks of the Ballet Mums skilled in the dark art of making other mothers feel uncomfortable?

My worries for my daughter are another blog post entirely. For the moment, I’m wallowing in my own regret at the speed with which time passes. Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on the parental joys you have already experienced and those that are yet to come. Every stage of being a parent involves some form of letting go and accepting that life is changing and changing rapidly. The pride that can bring is often tinged with sadness. As I watch my daughter head off for her first day at primary school I’m sure I’ll be grateful that it’s just her new found independence I’m worrying about and not the length of her skirt or the boy waiting for her at the school gate. That is all still to come. God help me.

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6 Responses to “Sad (or School Allocation Day)”

  1. Hiba April 18, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    Hi Helen, thank you so much for writing so well what so many moms (and maybe dads?) go through when their little ones start school. It is emotional and scary. We realise how fast they grow and how, despite how exhausted we are at looking after and caring for them, we actually do not really want to let go. That said, take comfort in that they will still need you very much despite being at “big” girl/boy school. Teenage years where moms/dads are, at best, boring are thankfully some time away 🙂 Yes, mackerel is a balanced diet. I give mine either smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, cheese on toast or wholewheat pasta when I do not have time to prepare anything more sophisticated (which I have to admit is often the case). Then I repeat dinners in more or less that order 🙂 Forget the stress of the school gates, trust yourself and your very bright little one and on with the new adventure! 🙂 Best of luck and lots of love to all. Hiba xxxx

    • Crumbs & Pegs April 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      A new adventure is definitely the way to look at it. Thanks Hiba! Xxx

  2. simonsometimessays April 18, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Terrific post.
    Isn’t it ironic that we invest so much time and care encouraging our children to grow and develop and yet suffer pangs of wistful regret when that development takes them further along their own paths?
    There are more tears to come, certainly (for Dads as well as Mums) – when they change schools, when they get exam results, when they go off to college. And that isn’t intended to put you off, because it’s a sort of sadness that we want to happen. But the first school is the sharpest pang of all.

    • Crumbs & Pegs April 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      Just have to get through September then and the rest will be a piece of cake!

  3. lisanichols266 May 5, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    School gates are what you make them. I’ve been doing it for seven years so far and have pals all over the playground … play nice, and the other Mummies (daddies, grannies etc) will play nice too. Handy Mantra: always cut a woman with small children some slack … She’s probably just had one of “those” mornings!

    • Crumbs & Pegs May 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks – I will remember that mantra! (Know it all too well myself!)

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