The day is coming fast. But it’s surrounded by a crazy tornado of mixed emotions.
You’re in calm organisation mode one minute, stomach in knots the next. And you’re acutely aware of the paradox your life feels like right now – as if it’s running on two speeds. The bog standard 24-hour normality, and warp speed as the first day of school hurtles towards you.
It was for me, too. Everyone around me seemed cool, calm and collected. But I struggled to hold back the tears.
Life before school was blissful as we spent many happy, playdough-filled days at home. My eager-faced kids lapped up story time at playgroup. The other mums and I sat sipping our cups of tea in the corner, chatting about the latest bolognese recipe. It was rosy.
On it went.
Then life changed from bliss to terrifying panic
Days morphed into years. Then, BAM! The first day of school arrived faster than the speed of light, dressed as an evil two-headed monster. One head was joy, and the other was panic.
It was a brutal scene. From the moment I woke, I’d nearly choke on the lump in my throat every time anyone so much as glanced at me sideways.
And every glimpse of the unbridled excitement on my daughter’s pudgy little face was like throwing jet fuel on a raging bonfire. Boom. Off I’d go again.
I was a blithering, mascara-streaked wreck. And I was pissed off.
Why the hell hadn’t anyone warned me?
With no words of wisdom to bolster me, I was out of control and clinging to my pack of Kleenex for dear life. All the while, desperately trying to put on a brave façade, so my daughter didn’t fly into a tear-jerking panic before we left the house.
I’ve no idea how I pulled it off, but I did. Off she went on her first day with a twinkle in her eye that shone brighter than her new, insanely huge shoes.
Me, on the other hand – I was consumed by last-minute panic. “She’s not ready!” I wailed in the car on the way home.
Revealing the secrets of why you needn’t worry
Why didn’t someone let me in on the secrets of what came next? Facts that seem only to be known by seasoned school-mums, and are, strangely, secured so tightly you need the highest level of clearance to access them.
Now that I’m in the know, I’m going the spill the beans.
1. School is rich with lessons in resilience
Your baby’s crazy excitement will morph into immense pride over their achievements – pride they can never gain in their sheltered life at home. They’ll also begin to develop the essential resilience they’ll need to cope with blows to their self-confidence and bounce back with superhuman strength.
2. School sparks imagination and wonder about life
Know that you’re on the cusp of watching your child’s little brain explode with an ability to imagine and ask any question they need to learn about the rich tapestry of life. Questions that will blow your mind and keep you on your toes for years to come, and make “Let’s Google it” your go-to answer for many things.
3. School does not guarantee exhaustion
This next one may come as a shock. You’ve no doubt been told that your child will be so exhausted in the first weeks of school that they’ll fall asleep face-first in their dinner. But it’s not always true. The energy school gave my daughter blindsided me as I’d been conned by the notion that she’d fall into a peaceful slumber with little effort on my behalf.
Now you’re aware, you can be ready for the energetic onslaught just in case.
4. School teaches your child how to survive in a “system”
I held the belief that my daughter would love the healthy bento-style lunch box I packed each day crammed with fancy food cut into stars and faces. I was wrong. She humoured me for a few weeks, picking at it here and there, then begged me for the good old sandwich every other kid had.
Turns out eating time is in short supply and when you’ve got 25 classmates to chase — quick and simple wins the race.
5. School turns kids into covert secret agents
You may think you’ll still have control over your child once they start school. The truth is that your rule has ended and war is about to break out in your kingdom. Your child’s free spirit won’t be tethered by your limits, only guided by your boundaries so far as their will allows. It’s time to up your game as they’re about to outsmart you at every turn.
6. School proves you’ve done a great job of being a parent
It may come as a surprise, but school proves what a great job you’ve done getting your child ready for the world. Take solace knowing they won’t be eaten by vicious and unruly children in the playground because they possess the chops to handle themselves – more than you realise.
Every “no” you’ve uttered over the years has reinforced her ability to know right from wrong — even though she’s probably kept this ability firmly hidden from sight.
If you’re struggling with the heart-wrenching feeling that you know makes no sense, but washes over you in your quietest moments, and floors you like a punch to the gut — don’t.
Your precious little package is well and truly ready to take on the world. You know it deep down. They are ready to be lit up and enriched by bigger life lessons. And ready to fly on the wings of their new-found motivation to learn and succeed – motivation that many grown-ups lost way back when.
It’s all worth it. So buff those shoes and dress your eager beaver in her oversized uniform and be as excited as they are.
Because the best is yet to come.