I have a new job, well I don’t actually get paid or anything but it feels like a new job. I need to rock up five days a week to clock in at a fixed time, armed with all the relevant paperwork and not wearing pyjamas.
There are new people to meet and names to remember and all this terminology to get my head round and to be honest it’s a steep learning curve. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks so there’s still time to get up to speed and maybe others feel the same as me, the other parents I mean, at the school gates.
My daughter thankfully is absolutely loving it. She has settled into Reception without a hitch and neither of us shed a tear on her first day; we were both just happy and excited. I knew it was a big step and a fresh challenge for her but I hadn’t really reflected on what it would be like for me, entering this new era, assuming the role of The School Run Mum.
Five Things I’ve Learned So Far
1. Living ridiculously close to the school will not help me to arrive effortlessly on time.
The fact that I can make it from our front door to the classroom in about 3 minutes flat just encourages me to try and break that record. I have caught myself channelling that Michael McIntyre comedy sketch as it edges ever closer to 9am and I’m still shrieking “teeth” and “shoes”. We now have a hairbrush, toothbrushes and toothpaste in a cup on the windowsill of the downstairs loo to avoid either of my children having to go back upstairs from where they may never return.
2. I am more concerned about my daughter’s appearance than I have ever been about my own.
Her uniform is clean and ironed, her hair is brushed with co-ordinating bobbles, her shoes are polished to a shine. I fear those standards may soon slip. I take far less pride in my own school run look and will admit I have already tipped up with no make-up, wet hair or hastily combed-through dry shampoo. I have seen a few fit mums arriving in gym kit and trainers with hair tied back all ready for a workout after drop-off and that could be a good ploy; no-one need know I’m not actually going running just running late.
3. Teachers do not reveal their real names, even to the grown-ups.
It is top secret information and not the done thing to ask. They introduce themselves as Mrs Jones or Mr Smith and you may never find out their first name which does feel a bit weird and formal when you’re not four years old and sitting cross-legged on the carpet. Maybe it’s so parents can’t stalk them on Facebook. Come on, it would be tempting.
4. Olives are a fruit, according to Wikipedia.
I know I should know that but I had to Google it just to check. Children are only allowed to bring either fruit or vegetables for their mid-morning snack to improve their oral muscle development. Honestly that’s what it said in the handout. I’m all for promoting healthy eating but it does mean you have to stay organised if you can’t just grab a cereal bar out of the cupboard. She’s taken in chunks of cucumber, an apple, a banana, some strawberries and then on one day when I had run out of fresh stuff, I saw the jar of pitted green olives in the fridge. Bingo! That’s my back-up plan then, my daughter loves olives and they are a fruit. I wonder if a few spoonfuls of tinned sweetcorn or a handful of frozen peas would do.
5. It is a long time since I was at primary school and a lot has changed.
Technology has moved on meaning computers in every classroom and no dinner money in little brown envelopes because there’s a ParentPay app on your phone. The alphabet isn’t where it’s at anymore, it’s all about phonics and they learn to form cursive letters with all the little flicks to prepare for joined-up writing. I dread to think what’s happened to maths, I always struggled to navigate numbers and I’m not sure I remember my times tables. How long before my 5 year old overtakes me and asks for help with homework I don’t understand?
Maybe I should be wearing L plates to make it clear I’m a first-timer. You can tell which parents at the school gates have older kids as well, they seem to know the ropes. I bet they have a rigid system in place for getting ready on time in the mornings, ours is still a work in progress. You get so used to being in control and staying one step ahead of your children but now I can see her racing ahead while I try to keep up. That’s a good thing though; I want her to enjoy her education and to soak it all up, to be eager to ask questions and not to take “I don’t know” for an answer.
I guess we both have a lot to learn.
About Jill Misson
Mum of two girls who fortunately likes the colour pink, Jill is a freelance writer and radio presenter. Loves baking and eating cakes but no longer gets to lick the spoon now she has little helpers. You can follow Jill on Twitter, find her on Facebook and check out her brilliant website.
Image credit: Jill Misson