My little guy ... the one who made me a mummy, helped me feel love like I’ve never felt, gave me sleepless night after sleepless night and made a mighty old mess in the kitchen during mealtimes (and still does) ... is off to school!! How the hell has that even happened because it really doesn’t feel like four and half years since he came in to the world!!
Anyway less of that sentimental stuff and more of the feelings but before that if your children aren’t at school yet ... let me bring to your attention the stuff he needs!! It’s a list as long as my arm .... and bloomin expensive!! Eli is a mud monkey, he loves getting dirty and playing in anything that looks even the slightest bit messy, so I’ve got a good old supply of school uniform (firstly because I hate washing and usually get a back log and secondly because of COVID they’ve got to be in clean uniform each day). Then there’s the school shoes (which unlike his mummy (because I love shoes) he didn’t enjoy shopping for), the new wellies, slippers and all in one waterproof ... I could go on!! I’m only telling you this because it stops me thinking about how I’m feeling ... but (swallowing the massive lump in my throat) I will move on to that now!
Eli’s school transition has been extremely well organised by the school and although it was our second choice, we are so pleased that he got this school and actually can’t thank them enough for the communication they have provided since school places were announced (which was obviously in the midst of the pandemic). Other parents with children going to schools in the area have been working in the dark and only starting receiving communications during the summer holidays which obviously makes planning very difficult! Eli’s school acknowledged from the word go that starting school would be different for our children (but they wouldn’t know a thing about it because they’ve never experienced going to school so it would just be normal to them) and also that they were unsure of how it would go ... but they were planning (and re-planning) and communicating that to us when things had to change. So we told Eli that he was going to big school and left it at that for a couple of months ... little did we know that on his head, all sorts of thoughts were whirring around!!
The first interaction with the school was meeting his new teacher in May - she arrived on our doorstep armed with Eli’s book bag and ‘Max the monkey’ - a little monkey teddy with the school t-shirt on which she wanted us to make a diary about of his experiences over summer with Eli (first homework fail here because we forget to take him anywhere ... oops)!! We explained what their thoughts were so far and that hopefully the children would get to do a couple of hours settling in in July to go and see the classroom and the school - which for many of the children would have been the first time they had seen it.
Then comes the heart breaking confusion from Eli! A couple of weeks before the settling in session, Eli’s Nanny (Phil’s mum) asked him if he was excited for going to see his school .. well that was it!! Tear after tear rolled down his beautiful little face, he was sobbing like I’ve never seen before and tears started to form in my eyes! We tried to understand why he was so upset but it just made things worse, so we left it there and tried again a few days later ... only to get the same reaction. While all this was going on, Eli’s new teacher had made a video walk round of the school and so one day when Seth was down for his nap and I had a bit of time alone with him, I sat down and we watched the (11 minute) video. At points his eyes widened (like when the mud area filled with diggers appeared) but I could still tell something was ticking over in his head!! I asked him what he thought and he said ... ‘it looks good mummy but why do I have to sleep there .. I want you to come and pick me up’!! It finally clicked, he thought he had to sleep at school and we weren’t going to pick him up - and that was why he was so upset!! I picked him up, gave him a big cuddle and told him mummy or daddy would always be there at the end of the day to collect him. And once I’d said that, he asked to watch the video again and absolutely couldn’t wait for a couple of days later for his two hours at big school!!
Our house overlooks the school playground, so we really couldn’t be any closer (but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing because I can see Eli playing in the playground out of our bedroom windows)!! The settling in two hours was great, he went in with no problems and came out two hours later (after I’d sneaked a couple of peeks at him) with a letter, a picture and excited to start school.
However, now the time has come ... Eli is absolutely fine about school whereas I on the other hand am going through all sorts of emotions and thinking so many different things ... ‘will he make friends? How will he settle in? I hope he likes the food’ ... all those things that probably other parents have thought or are thinking but every time I start thinking, I get weepy and a great big lump in my throat!! And then there’s the COVID panic which I think is worse because children have been off school for so long and protected from it all.
I’ve still got four days with my little (big) boy and have lots of nice things planned ... so until the big day on Friday I’m just going to enjoy my time with him and have some quality fun family time!!