Are you ready for school next week?
The Ballinamore Family Festival is over and so summer in Leitrim draws to a close. Autumn is here and so is school.
Big school … first day at school.
Our eldest is heading off to primary school. Is she ready? Are we prepared as a family, for this brand new chapter in our lives? The simple answer is: No.
Yes we have the school uniform hanging in the wardrobe along with new shoes and a new coat. She has picked out a beautiful school bag and pencil case, we have checked off the list of stationery and accessories required for Junior Infants (no sign of actual books yet). We have practiced asking the teacher permission to go to the toilet, checked she can open her bags and lunch box, spoken about the classroom routine, break times etc.
But it is impossible to be ready for the unknown. Some random stranger asked her in the shop this week “Are you all ready for school darling?” and my sweet angel who checks her new school bag religiously every night replied quite confidently: “No.” The answer did not take me by surprise.
I know she didn’t tick all the items off the checklist when she decided to initiate early labour almost five years ago, and she certainly was not ready to be potty trained when we started that messy journey. She showed no signs of wanting to leave her cot and yet jumped straight into her big bed, she was really not keen on becoming a big sister when her brother was born, but she survived, adapted and thrived during all and I have every confidence that she will do the same in big school.
But starting school doesn’t just affect her life, our whole family must make the leap. As parents we need emerge from our cocoon, the one we have dug ourselves into for the past five years. We have to now embrace the world outside our home and the major influence it will have on our big girl.
There are Parent Association meetings, teacher meetings, after school activities and sports, as well as weekend birthday parties and football games to schedule. A whole new social circle awaits, and no we are not ready for it!
School brings new problems and challenges such as making friends, fighting with friends, being left out, who to invite to birthday parties … issues I can no longer control, issues that she must navigate with without my help inside the school gates. It is scary but it is also exciting.
I am going to take ALL the photos and videos on the first day, but I also hope to put down the phone and embrace the occasion. I want to take a moment to be thankful that my child has progressed onto school, that she is well able for the challenges ahead.
It will be an emotional day, one of nostalgia for my baby and hope for the future. Every parent at the school gate will leave hoping their 'baby' is happy. Forget about academic success, we all crave simple happiness.
Make sure you have a strong cup of coffee and something nice to celebrate this big day - but get rid of all evidence of treats before they come home, there is a new healthy eating policy to adhere to remember!