The act of sending your firstborn to school is much like heading back there for the first time yourself – particularly if it’s been a VERY, VERY long time since you’ve actually been a school kid (I can’t tell you precisely how many years it’s been for me because it’s too early in the week for despair).
I’ve done all the regular research that’s available to me – I chatted to other mums who have been on the Back To School train before me, I attended the induction day at the school (although Jacob was having a bit of a meltdown so I missed a good part of The Chat and left it to Ass Monkey who has since relayed precisely NONE of the information), I read all the school literature and I bought all the books and uniforms well in advance.
So far, so very unlike me. I’m not a particularly organised mum to date but for the purposes of getting the Son (Moon and the Stars) off to Big School, I was willing to pull up my school socks and put the effort in.
And then I lost a week at the end of the summer. I don’t know what or how or why it happened but when it got to the last week in August, I assumed I had two more weeks to get all the ‘fiddly bits’ done when in fact, I had only days.
Cue much panic purchasing of labels, schoolbags, water bottles and wailing over What The FUCK are we going to give him in his lunchbox?!
On the very last night before school began, I searched high and low for the labels that I’d bought. I’d heard through the grapevine that you have to label everything – EVERYTHING – when your kid goes to school because they lose everything.
‘Even their underpants!’, I heard, and I somehow believed that mother. It was the tone she used – beaten by the Clothes Going Missing Beyond The Schoolgates Scandal.
I couldn’t find the blasted things for ages and berated myself for proving, yet again, that I was untrustworthy as an organised mother and human being in general.
How could I send my child to school without a label attached to every corner of his belongings? What if we lost a school jumper, a precious school tie – what if we lost HIM? Should I affix a label to the back of his ear?
3am and the labels were located. The iron and ironing board were dragged out and labels ceremoniously affixed to every navy and blue and navy-and-red-striped item that we had purchased for our lad to take the major leap that is the next step in his education.
Come morning and we were all up early, excited about this latest adventure.
I dressed my son on the landing upstairs – just he and I, alone in our little ceremony.
I didn’t think I would cry – I have been so happy for him to get going in primary school. I know he’s ready and I know his mind is really ripe for learning.
He placed his tie over his head and we stopped for a moment to look at each other and then he threw his arms around my neck.
‘I love you’ I told him, bursting into tears. My boy, the little man.
And as I placed his school jumper over his head, the final piece of his armour – his uniform which says, ‘I grew up overnight, did you know that?‘ – I noticed something that I will never forget.
There was an inbuilt tag on the fucking neck of the jumper – I hadn’t needed to iron new ones on at all.