My Eldest starts school in September. I know, it’s ridiculous. What ever happened to my little boy still in nappies, not quite talking right, relying on us for pretty much everything without much complaint? He’s still in there somewhere, but the sprout of independence is slowly growing within him. The sprout that parents simultaneously hate and celebrate.
A little while ago we had a visit from one of the early years teachers from the school we picked along with one of the teaching assistants. This wasn’t something we had expected the school to do, but apparently it is common practice for them. They asked a few questions about our son, and then there was the over-arching question of “Is there anything else you would like us to know?”… Well, where to begin… Unfortunately our son was present so we didn’t really say anything much other than he is adopted and he lives with his brother, along with a few other snippets that he already knows about from life story work.
Then last week he got to visit his school for the first time on their open day which also included parents. When we arrived I had a word with the teacher who visited and said we would like to speak to them about him before he starts as there are things which we would rather tell them without him being there. I was told that was fine and we would get a letter soon telling us who his teacher would be so that we could arrange a meeting. Brilliant!
My son had a quick look around, had a little play with a few of the things they had laid out, then we went outside and he spotted some craft things. Namely a bottle, some glue, and some craft paper. The teacher who visited us sat with him and he told her he wanted to build a rocket, so she helped him with that but asking him about what he thought he needed to do (not actually telling him). This seemed like she was gauging what he was capable of without being too open about it, which seemed like a good start!
After that, he latched on to her. He followed her around like a shadow, which to me demonstrated his anxiety of the situation. He’s a boy who comes across as confident but underneath he isn’t really. We had a little word with him to see if we could gently encourage him to go and play with some of the other children there, and eventually he managed to at least move away from the teacher.
At this point I have to admit I had begun to worry about what he would be like at school. I hoped he wasn’t going to be a bit like me, socially inept with his peers and better with the adults, making it difficult to make friends his own age. When we had that word with him it was clear he was a bit anxious about everything. Actually, he got annoyed with us for taking him to one side because it meant he wasn’t following the teacher any more.
We took him to the playground where there were lots of bikes and trikes to play on, he picked a bike, with no stabilisers, and actually did a reasonable job of staying up on it considering he hasn’t quite got the hang of two wheels yet (he’s still practicing on a balance bike at home).
Just before the heavens opened up we were given the opportunity to go inside and experience a lunch time, with real lunch food. This surprised me on a couple of levels, firstly because I wasn’t expecting it, and secondly because the food was waaaaaay better than I ever remember experiencing at school! Our son had already had lunch so he nibbled on a few bits and pieces, with me (who hadn’t had lunch because I’d just nipped out from work) happily devouring any leftovers.
It was then time to go home, so we started to say our goodbyes to whichever members of staff we could find (really needed to make a good impression with the staff!) and lo and behold a parent came up to me and said hello. I vaguely recognised her but couldn’t place where from and I certainly couldn’t remember her name. She knew lots about us though, including that we had adopted two boys and asked how they were. Argh… who is she? Who is she? Then she said a few more things which allowed me to place her! Yay! She was the wife of a friend of a friend, I had met her a couple of times at events organised by said friend (including their wedding I believe). I have to admit as soon as I got home I looked on my friend’s Facebook friend list to track down her name, because you know, it’s rude to ask someone who you apparently know what their name is, isn’t it? I now know her name. A parent we know, just one, but one could be enough.
Once we left, I was still worried that my son hadn’t really spoken to any of the other children, but then something wonderful happened. On the walk back to the car, he spotted someone and started yelling out to her as she was a few meters away walking away from us. “I’m going to this school too [girl’s name]! We’re both going to the same school!!”. And she yelled back! She was a girl who attends the same pre-school as my son does, and they know each other. Even better than that, when I asked him if he’d talked to her about school a couple of days later he said he had and they were excited. He now names her, and only her, as his friend – other children previously named, who aren’t going to be at his new school, have been discarded; childhood is a cruel cruel time.
We recently received the letter with the details of who his class teacher and TA would be (as it’s a big school with more than one class per year), his teacher will be the one he latched on to, and we were pleased to find out that our son and his friend are in the same class. Although it did require my husband talking to another parent to find that out! Scary.
So, maybe he will be okay at school. Maybe I’m worrying about him too much, but as I keep telling him it’s my job to keep him safe, and if I’m not worrying about him I don’t feel like I’m doing my job properly! I have to come to terms with the fact that he is growing up. Eventually, I will come to terms with it, I just might not be happy about it.