Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One More Step Along the Road I Go...

I appreciate I am rather late in writing this, as the children broke up last week, but I'm busy getting ready for our (I hope) rainfree holiday on Friday...

The end of term was rather fraught in our house. I had two children leaving schools. No 1 was leaving primary school forever and no 3 is moving up from the infants to the juniors.

Cue, lots and lots - and far too fucking many to cope with for this poor stressed mum - of leaving activities.

In the final fortnight of term we had:

One Leaver's Disco (no1)
Two Leaver's Plays (over two nights, no 1, over one night the following week, no 3)
One Leaver's Trip to local cathedral (also no 1, and happily without parental involvement)
Two Leaver's Assemblies (nos 1&3)

Unhappily the assemblies were orginally booked for the same day (no one but no one in the schools my children attend seems to understand the art of communication), but after a poke from yours truly, the infants kindly agreed to move theirs backward by a day.

No 3 in the main isn't too fussed about the big change in her life. She's pretty much outgrown the infants, has been desperate all term to join her big sister in the field next door to her school (this represents the highlight of life in the juniors apparently) and though she moaned about beng anxious about her play she was really very happy to stand up and be the narrator. Me, I was of course bursting with maternal pride, as AT LAST, after three attempts at it, I finally have a child who is the teacher's favourite.

It is a standing joke in the school that the teacher's favourites always get to be the narrator in all the school plays, and none of mine have achieved such glory so far. At least, not until no 3 came along. No 3 from the time she tottered into preschool seems to have the knack of making teachers like her. They raved about her so much and so embarrassingly often at nursery I used to refer to her as my child genius. Well, the child genius is all grown up and turned into teacher's pet. I was laying bets on her getting the narrator slot, and lo and behold I was right. The embarrassing thing about this of course, is that everyone else notices, and you have to protest loudly, look it's REALLY not my fault the teacher chose her, I haven't been bombarding her with promises of free dental treatment and a copy of my book, HONEST I haven't...

So despite a little wobble the day of the performance, and being rather exhausted afterwards as we had to have a disco post performance (this took place inside this year as the rain had caused the following danger: Wet Grass Is Hazardous was the reason giving for coming indoors), no 3 is dealing with the change in circumstances quite well. And I managed to get through hearing, One More Step Along The Road I Go without cracking up. Which is quite good for an old softie like me.

No 1, however was another matter.

Readers of this blog may have picked up that no 1 has had a bit of a rough year 6. It started right at the beginning when she came home with the forms for secondary school (Why oh why they saw fit to give the blasted things to the kids I don't know. It's caused me no end of trouble). She became very anxious about losing her friends and moving on to the new school, which was compounded by the stress of sitting for grammar school despite my best efforts to make things laid back and easy. This was followed in March by the discovery that not only had she failed to get into grammar school but she'd failed spectacularly badly. In the midst of her misery about this it became quite apparent that her wretched teacher had been piling the pressure on about how scary secondary school was.

Never mind, says Mum, at least you're going to the school you wanted to now.

Ha. Bloody Ha.

Three weeks ago no 1 went for a day at her new school. She was full of excitement and looking forward to it. But when I went to pick her up she burst into tears and said she'd had a miserable day. Turns out she's not with any of her friends bar one which was her main reason for wanting to go to that school and not the one she failed to get into. Never before have I truly wanted to bang my head against a brick wall, but really I very nearly went and did it. I HAD said over and over again till I was BLUE in the face, that she might not be with her friends at the school she's going to, so she may as well go for the grammar school as more then likely she'll make new friends anyway.

No 1 doesn't normally do crying, so it was something of a shock to spend not just the next two hours comforting her but for her to burst into tears at the slightest provocation nearly every day up until the end of term. If it was my drama queen no 2 I wouldn't bat an eyelid, but no 1 is such a bite your top lip kind of girl it came as real shock I can tell you. And of course, being the softie mum I have become - I used to have this hard Cancerian outershell till motherhood ripped it off me - the weepier she became the weepier I became. I tell you we've been drowning in this house without any help from the rain thank you very much.

Spouse meanwhile has been retreating into the garage to play with his new toy - a kit car Catheram 7 , which I PROMISE to blog about because I find the whole thing so funny, but it may have to wait till I'm back - and looking on bemused. As well he might. Unlike me he grew up in an exclusively male household. Poor lamb has NO idea what is about to hit him. Because without a doubt on top of the stress, hormones have been playing a big part. When I tentatively suggested to no 1 that her being this weepy might have something to do with All That, she looked absolutely horrified and said Oh no! Not that too....

Poor kid. I'd forgotten quite how lousy it is dealing with all this stuff.

But as a parent I can tell you it's damned wearing.

We had tears because she was ill and insisted on going in as it was her dress rehearsal (the school called me in and she missed it anyway.)
Tears because I suggested she miss the first performance of the play as she'd been ill. I relented in the end as her teacher said it was ok.
Tears because she was chosen to be in the novelty race (AKA the Race Where They Dump the Crap Ones and she knows it) for Sports Day.
Tears because she didn't want to do Sports Day.
Tears during Sports Day because she lost her race (she didn't even try, I was watching)
Tears at the end of the day because she'd lost everything on Sports Day.
Tears because she was the only one (of course) upset about leaving school, two of her friends are going to grammar school and she's not, she is devastated she got such a bad mark, she thinks her life is over etc etc.

I was like worn out rag by the end of the week.

And it got worse, when I went to her assembly and watched her grumpily read a poem out (she didn't want to do it), trying not to cry in between the moments when she laughed, shooting filthy looks at me every time I tried to take a photo and generally doing a grand job of making me feel as miserable as she did. I was ripe for a good bawl before I'd even started, and it only took one other mum to go for me to be wiping the tears away, along with half my row.

Luckily no 1 didn't spot me crying otherwise that would have REALLY lost her her street cred.

I have to fess up here to having been taken aback by the strength of my emotion. I have three kids still to go through the school, so it's not like I'm saying goodbye to it.


My little girl is about to take a very big step along the road. And it seems like minutes since she took her first one.

I am conscious of time's winged chariot more and more as she gets older. The last seven years have sped by. Give it another seven and I'll be waving her off to uni (I hope)...

The years pass in our adulthood and make very few changes. We get older, gain a few grey hairs, pile on the pounds. But essentially we change little. But our children change beyond recognition with each passing year. And it is only now that I realise how brief their time in childhood is.

No 1's time in childhood is very nearly up. I hope it's been fun for her.

But what I really really hope is that the step she takes next is even better.

Oh. And that she stops crying...


Dumdad said...

"I used to have this hard Cancerian outershell till motherhood ripped it off me."

Replace fatherhood with motherhood and that's me! (10th July, as you're asking).

And, by and large, whether in France or England this parenting lark is much the same whoever we are. Ups and downs watching them bloom and blossom while we wither and fade (well, we rally a little when watered with wine).

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Nic said...

Every school I've taught at has the Y6 sing this - makes me chole every time. I would hazard a guess that hormones are playing a big part in all of this. Poor you and poor No 1. I think I said before, there' a lot to be said to going to the only school in town (even if it does have nearly 2000 pupils)

Do we need to send waders?

granny p said...

You won't get this for ages: never mind....Your schools' saga echoes - grandchildren now for me - but more when you say we don't change, our children do...It's exactly how I used to measure time; by their children; while we all stayed the same. Enjoy THAT while it lasts. It doesn't, thinks she, peering round her wrinkly friends. Now it's my children are ageless and their children's childhood shooting by at its ever faster rate. LIFE IS SHORT. But can be good... and oh, don't I wish I was younger again. Sort of.

Hope you've enjoyed Menorca. Strange place. My Spanish ancestor came from there and I went looking for her once down the streets in Port Mahon where she might have lived. More different from Mallorca it couldn't have been. We stayed in a place which looked like an enormous dwarf town, so hope you did better. x