Now. I don’t want to piss on anyone’s summer picnic, but it’s September in less than three months. This means termtime. I know, I know, most parents are limping towards the summer holidays barely able to stomach thinking about the next school year. But my eldest starts in Reception this year, so my nerves have been building up to this point for MONTHS.
I’ve banged on plenty of times before about getting a school place and all that jazz. But now, it’s about to get real. And I guess I’ve tried not to think about it because the actual commitments of the education system are SO LONG. I once heard school referred to as the educational treadmill and from this point on the starting blocks, it really does feel like it’s going to go on forever. A constant juggle between term dates and inset days and not enough annual leave, and expensive holidays and holiday clubs and financial obligations. A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that her daughter’s school have asked to put her on a monthly repayment plan for a bloody iPad. An iPad!! What happened to being given a cheapy exercise book, choosing some lurid wrapping paper from John Menzies, and getting your mum to do a sticky backed plastic attack on everything at 10pm on a Sunday night?
My husband is as traumatised as me by the idea and keeps floating the notion that maybe I’ll just homeschool her. Will I fuck – I’d be climbing the walls within half a day. Or relying heavily on CBBC and crunching raw coffee beans in the kitchen, with holes in my leggings and a refusal to do Art because of my mess OCD.
I usually like to have a good old worry on my way to and from work. But if it’s too much for my little brain, I’ll shove it all away and think about lipstick or Tom Hardy or something inconsequential (well inconsequential until he falls in love with me and I have to explain it to my husband). Yesterday though, I rolled with it and let myself scurry through alllllllll of the worries, then immediately needed to wordvom them out into Notes on my phone. So, here they are. If you’re a few years down the line from me on the Good Ship School, then please feel free to allay some of my fears before I grind all my teeth right out of my mouth.
- Exactly how much cash am I going to be tapped up for, within the realms of bake sales, school trips, discos, extra learning materials, fetes and shit like that?
- How quickly do 4/5 year olds grow? How long can I eke this uniform out for? Because I’ve just spent £89 on three jumpers, four logo t-shirts and a bookbag.
- Is she going to lose her shoes? Should I be getting her proper Clarks jobbies for her first school shoe effort? How many pairs?
- What if she announces, in the middle of any activity that she happens to be doing, that she needs a poo…and then people laugh at her?
- Does she have to line up and collect her own tray of lunch? What if she drops it?
- What if she doesn’t drink enough water during the day?
- She can’t write her name. Does it matter that she can’t write her name?
- She can’t read – she can only pick out random letters. When does reading happen?
- What the hell is phonetics?
- What the ACTUAL hell is Makaton?!
- Will she get homework?
- Will she need an iPad?!
- If not an iPad, will she need a pencil case and what needs to go in it…actually, this excites me. I love me some stationery procurement.
- What if she doesn’t like her school dinner and doesn’t eat anything?
- What if she’s naughty and she gets told off?
- What if she doesn’t make new friends?
- She’s been at nursery, and subsequently pre-school, since she was 10 months old. This is a good thing, yes? I’ve stood her in good stead?
- What if three full days of breakfast club, school, then after-school club just wreck her and she ends up exhausted all the time?
- Is she meant to have another set of “ims” (trendy speak for jabs) before she starts?
- What if I don’t make friends at the school gates?
Right, that’s it. She’s not going. I’ll just homeschool her and get some sort of EYFS tutorial thing off YouTube. I can do controlled Arts in the garden. That’s the answer to everything, right?
-SJW June 2017