When our eldest daughter started reception last year, tears and settling in were expected, and delivered. We breezed the first week or so, carried along in the excitement of new uniform and all the fuss and comments of well wishers, and a few weeks in it hit like a tonne of bricks.
There were bedtimes which broke my heart – sobs of desperation and pleas to ‘not make me go’. As a parent, it’s soul destroying to watch, and the failure to give them what they want is pretty horrendous.
But, as they said it would, it did pass. Tears at the class door gave way to giggles and games with new friends, and excitement over whose turn it was for ‘Show and Tell’. The sobs became a distant memory and we soon all felt part of the furniture in our new daily routine.
Everyone said year one would be a leap. The reduction of free play and increase in ‘proper work’ wouldn’t go unnoticed. And again, the first week or so came and went with smiles and excitement over a new desk, a new rucksack, and a pair of light up Clarks shoes.
But again, the excitement has fizzled out.
We’ve had day after day of tears at the gate, a reluctance to read, to do homework, to get dressed and even to go to sleep. School suddenly seems too hard, and she just doesn’t really want to go. Reinforced by the knowledge that Mummy and her sister are at home having a ‘great time’, it’s just a bit too much.
It’s tough on her, it’s tough on us. But ultimately, it’s tough luck?
I’m reassured by the smiles at the end of the day that greet me at the door; the stories of the day and the stuff she’s learnt, achieved and felt pride in. The friends she loves to play with and party with (most weekends) and the staff who assure me she wasn’t sad for long.
So with a deep breath, I walk away. Peeling her off me and handing her into the trust of a kind stranger. Comforted by the kind words of other parents, and strolling along beside many a troubled parent at the busy school gate at this time of year.
Everything is a phase, and perhaps some phases rear their ugly heads more than once – we have been here before and she’ll get through it again. As the memory of the carefree long days of summer fades, she’ll get back into the swing of things. Until then we will carry on reassuring her and encouraging her every step of the way; talking it through with her and talking it through with each other.
There must be so many parents feeling that lump in their throat at nine am every morning right now. Here’s to solidarity, and a good solid tea after the school run. This too shall pass.