If you’re over 25 and you’re on facebook, there’s a good chance you’ve been seeing lots of photos of kids posing proudly in their school uniforms, wearing clothes and hats that hang off their tiny frames.  It’s that time of year, when so many little ones are starting school for the first time, including my eldest daughter Birdy. Among my friends there has been quite a lot of discussion about it.

 To say Birdy has been excited about starting school would be a major understatement.  Every day for the past two weeks she’s been asking me how many days were left before school started.  Then at night she would pray for the days to go quicker.  I was really trying to play it down, because I know that if you build these things up too much, they can get a bit overwhelmed when the big day finally comes.  I certainly didn’t need to remind her that she was about to start school, put it that way.

 But I wanted to open a conversation with her, so I said something like, “Wow, I can’t believe you’re starting school tomorrow.” And she replied that she couldn’t believe it either.  She said that she just couldn’t believe that she was really five.  She said she still feels like she’s 4 on the inside.  So there was definitely a bit of disbelief there on both sides.  On the actual morning, the alarm went off and I said, “Birdy, first day of school today!” She literally leapt off the bed and had her school uniform on within seconds.  I’m still groaning and trying to get my butt out of bed, but she was already dressed before I’d even rolled over.  Let’s hope that continues.

 When we got to the school gate, I was feeling fine, although I have to tell you there were a few sympathetic smiles between the parents and a few rather teary looking eyes. Of course, I was totally together.  Afterwards, a few of the parents went out for coffee and I thought, “Well I handled that quite well.”  It wasn’t until I was at home by myself and the house was just so quiet, that I started to fall apart.  I had this ridiculous sense of being redundant.  Because everyone knows a 5 year old is totally independent and ready to move out of home and no longer needs a mother at all!  A totally irrational response, I know, but talking to the other Mums at pick-up time, I wasn’t the only one who found myself feeling a little teary and irrational that day.

As for Birdy, she loved it.  On the way home, she said, “I love my school Mum!” And she said that she had so much fun.  But she was bit confused.  She said, “Mum part of me feels like I’m 5 because I’m going to school, but part of me feels like I’m still 4 because we just played all day like we did at pre-school.”  I think she was expecting it to be a bit more difficult, but they haven’t done any actual schoolwork yet.  On the second day of school she was just as excited to go back.  But already she was playing it down, trying to be cool.  At the school gate she dropped my hand and took a couple of steps away from me when she saw some big kids arriving at the gate.  Already, I’m not cool enough for her!

Having your first child start school feels like the beginning of a whole new era.  For some of my friends, who have their youngest child starting school, its also the end of an era.  I’m very excited about Birdy learning to read and making her own friends.  But more than anything I’m looking forward to the community aspect of it.  On the first day I met 2 or 3 other mums, and they all lived within one or two streets of me, so I’m really looking forward to getting to know more local families.  And hopefully I might bump into them at the shops or the library or the local park and get a bit more of a sense of community. I’m not signing up for the P&C just yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to getting more involved in school life.  I just hope Birdy keeps bounding out of bed like she did last week!

 Did you have a child starting school last week?  How did they go?  And how did you go?

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