Yesterday morning, during the daily battle of hurriedly trying to brush all the tangles out of Betty's hair (mainly where she has been sucking it), she crossly informed me that all the children in her class hate her.
I wasn't sure whether this was a clever tactic to get me to stop brushing her hair for a second, and that there was no truth in it whatsoever, or whether all the kids in her class really do hate her.
I carried on tugging on her matted hair and gently tried to get her to offer up a bit more information to corroborate the claim, but she said nothing else.
Had she made this announcement this time last year, ie. two weeks into Reception, I would have gone to pieces. I would have spent hours quizzing her about it, and would have had lengthy and tense conversations with my husband. I might have even spoken to the teacher.
As a new school mum, I remember getting upset over the most ridiculous things: little Daniel telling Betty that he no longer wanted to marry her; Chloe not wanting to play horses with her or share her peanut butter sandwiches; and Jack telling her that he didn't like her nose.
But with a little insight into the weird and wonderful ways of a school child and their peers, I have learnt that leaping on every single thing they say isn't always the best and most healthy approach. Not just because it turns you into a nervous wreck, but also because your child quickly becomes very astute at tugging your heartstrings.
For example, Betty's trick at the end of the last year was to come home looking sad, and say something like: "Nobody would play with me today, and I had a tummy ache, and Billy said his mum was cleverer than you." And I, in turn, would offer her a chocolate treat to cheer her up, while quietly feeling insulted at a remark made by a five-year-old who had never met me.
So, yesterday, I wrestled the brush out of Betty's hair, and merrily packed her off to school, telling her that all was fine.
She got on the school bus perfectly happily. It was probably several minutes before the niggling worries started about whether I had given my child yet another scar for life.
Rationally, I knew all was fine. The chances were remote that her entire class had taken it in turns to hurl insults at her, leaving her in a sobbing heap on the classroom floor.
With a year of school under our belts we have a new-found confidence. We can now stride into the school cloakroom, and not feel like we are being stared at for being strange new people. But there was still this slight doubt which I couldn't dispel. You can never be totally sure what's happening at school.
So yesterday afternoon, when a very calm and happy Betty got home from school, as casually as I could, I asked her who she had played with.
And with her newly acquired Year 1 attitude, she replied: "I played with all my friends, who else, derr," while rolling her eyes at me. "But I do feel sad," she added. "Please can I have a treat?" I compromised and gave her a crumpet.
You can catch up on previous Primary Day columns here.
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