This time in exactly four weeks, junior dwarf will have started school.
Actually he will be starting Kindergarten, which, for our interstate friends, is the non-compulsory year of school that comes before kids start school proper at the age of five. It has different names in different states, and Kinder is sometimes the first year of mandatory school, hence the confusion.
Where junior dwarf will go, he’ll do three full school days.
It’s going to be a huge change for us. Since he was about one year old, I have worked three days a week in my day job and have been at home with juniordwarf the other two weekdays.
Once school starts, I’ll change my work hours and only have one full day at home with juniordwarf.
It’s going to be so weird, and this subject deserves a whole post on its own, so I’m not going to say anything else on it right now.
Today we went shopping for a lunch box and a school bag for juniordwarf. I had no idea what would be needed. School lunches are something completely new to me and I am kind of terrified about having to start getting them ready each day.
I remember saying to someone last week that the first time I looked at all the back to school stuff in the shops, I got very scared and overwhelmed. It reminded me a bit of the first time we went into a baby shop and saw all the stuff that was in there, and totally freaked out at what it was all for, how much would we really need and how we were going to sort out the necessary from the fluff.
I felt a bit the same way when contemplating school lunches.
Apparently meal planning is going to be very important from now on if I want to stay on top of things.
Anyway, juniordwarf was a bit out of sorts today, so we never got to the new bag. We only really looked at lunch boxes. Taking advice from people who have done this before, what was going to be important was whether or not he could easily open the box. We’d tried a few weeks ago and he wasn’t interested in even trying, which was somewhat discouraging. Today we found a couple of things that he could easily open, and a cooler bag that I’m pretty sure he’ll get the hang of pretty quickly. Especially if he wants to eat!
He was quite taken with the black lunch cool pack, so we got that, a sandwich box and a snack box. I’d already got some extra freezer bricks, so he can use what he calls ‘the green bottle’ to keep his lunch cool.
So mission almost accomplished.
The next step is to make sure he understands what he’s in for when he goes to school.
We’d already been going to a pre-kinder/play group session at the school last year, run by the Kinder teacher. The idea is to get the kids used to the school, to meet some other kids they’ll be at school with and for the mums to get to know each other too. Toward the end of the year it got a bit more formal for the next year’s Kinder kids and they spent a bit more time doing ‘school stuff’ with the teacher.
The big difference this year – aside from the fact that he’ll be there all day instead of an hour and a half – is that I won’t be there with him.
I don’t think he quite understands that yet, so I’ve started talking to him about what will happen when he goes to school, explained that it will be a bit like daycare, as I will drop him off and he’ll stay at school all day with the teacher and his friends, and then I’ll come and get him at 3 o’clock.
The first time I explained this, he got very upset and said no he wanted Mum to be at school with him. My response was that he’d be with the teacher and his friends and that didn’t need me there, just like he didn’t need me there at daycare. He seemed OK with that for now.
I hope it’s going to be that simple, but even if it is for him, I doubt it will be for me. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be one of those mums who cries on their child’s first day at school.
I never thought it was a big step, after all he’s been going to daycare most of his life, and on the face of it, dropping him off at school is going to be the same as dropping him off at daycare – just like I told him.
But on reflection, it’s not really. It’s his first real step away from me, into a world where, for the most part I won’t know what happens. At daycare, the carers fill us in on what juniordwarf's been up to during the day; we know what and how much he ate, who he played with, when he went to the toilet and what he drew.
At school, we’ll have to rely on what he tells us. Of course we’ll be able to find out about what’s going on from his teacher, but it won’t be the formal reporting we get from daycare.
It’s his first steps into the big world, and his first steps to independence. Small steps mind you, but steps nonetheless. He really won’t be my baby any more (even though he always will be!)
And so I suppose thinking of it like that is going to see me as one of the tearful mummies on the first day of school.