We've almost survived our eldest daughter's first half-term at primary school. It's been a roller-coaster ride, full of joy and pride; and shame and embarrassment.
Here are some of the trials and tribulations we have faced.
Friendships: (loud sobs)
"Jasmine Wilson doesn't want to be my friend any more!"... "Jasmine Wilson is my best friend in the whole world ever!"..."Lizzy Davis is my best friend now"... "Jasmine says she's not my friend any more, she wants to be friends with Sarah Jacobs"... "I don't want Lizzy to be my best friend, I want Jasmine to be my best friend!"...
And so dawns the dreadful realisation that this is just the beginning of years, if not decades, of comforting my daughter through the turbulence of female friendships. Sigh.
I love music. I must at least make an effort to encourage my daughter to experience the joy of playing a musical instrument. But why do they always have to start with the dratted recorder? Couldn't they learn to play the guitar or something less piercing? It's lovely that she's so enthusiastic about it that she wants to practice at home, too. She can only play one note so far, but she plays it VERY well. I'm sure our neighbours think so as well.
The Harvest Festival:
My heart swelling with pride, I attended my daughter's first Harvest Festival service, to watch her singing angelically about Jesus and planting seeds and whatnot. All very beautiful and tear-jerking. Apart from the bit where I spent most of the service chasing around after her little sister, who attempted to pull over the eight-foot candlestick, climb in the font, play "Boo" behind the pillars and then pretended to change her toy rabbit's nappy in the aisle.
The Red Card:
School discipline is taking a bit of getting used to. In case an internet search in 20 years damages her future career in any way, I shan't reveal what the four-year-old was given a "red card" for. But we are VERY SORRY and she will NOT be doing it again.
The School Run Vortex:
We live five minutes' walk away from the school. Yet it's always a panic to get there on time. How is that possible? The School Run Vortex has something to answer for. No matter how early you get up, or how organized you are.
Even if it's only 8.15am and you think everyone is ready, somehow by 8.30am you are still not out of the house and as usual you end up piling out at 8.43am, shouting "Hurry UP" all the way to school before bundling into the classroom just before the bell goes. It's a mystery.
It's not just the tedium of making a packed lunch in the morning, or its contribution to the School Run Vortex. It's the fear, and the guilt. The letters home from school "We have noticed that many packed lunches contain CHOCOLATE and SWEETS". If I give the four-year-old jam sandwiches, will I get a black mark? Will I be labeled a "bad parent"? She's definitely not having a Choccy Dodger. Oh no. Quinoa and beansprouts all the way.
The Friday Afternoon Syndrome:
There's something that happens to four-year-old children when they've been in full-time school for a few weeks. By Friday afternoon, the poor little dears are so worn out that their bodies are possessed by some sort of head-spinning, Exorcist-style entity, which proceeds to wreak havoc until you pour them into bed, screaming and weeping. It's pretty damned scary.
The School Rules:
This stuff is a total mystery to me. I just hope it's a mystery to other "new" parents too. Where are you supposed to drop the kids off? Where are you supposed to pick them up? Their book bag goes where? Their home-school book is what and what do I do with it? Does their library book go in a different place from their reading books? How do you find out which club she's in? What's the lollipop sign? Where is it? How was I supposed to know THAT?
The Mummy Mafia:
I don't actually know if there is a "Mummy Mafia" at our school. There might be. I'm too busy running in late with wet hair, restraining a toddler and trying to work out where the home-school book should go to even notice. If there IS a Mummy Mafia, I'm sure they're having a field day...
More on Parentdish: How to handle the after school grumps