We all know how terrifying going back to school can be, but it’s time to put those first-day fears aside – for the sake of the kids, says Jamie Day
So that’s that then; in the blink of an eye, the end of the holidays are drawing ever closer. I’m pretty sure that a couple of months ago, as I filled our diary with day trips to the seaside, to theme parks and the car’s MOT, it looked like summer would last forever, but here we are, with the earlier evenings looming and ‘back to school’ signs adorning every shop window this side of Calais. And while thousands of little ones will be heading back to start a new year, let’s not forget the four-year-olds up and down the capital with neatly-pressed pleated dresses or knee-length shorts taking pride of place in their crayon-marked wardrobes, who will be heading to school for the very first time, including our little girl, Edie.
After four years of watching Edie coo and poo, walk and talk, and more recently blitz her way through nursery like a steam train from Sodor, it’s finally time for her to go off into the big wide world, nylon book-bag in hand.
And while I’m obviously happy for her, selfishly I’m also left with a slight tinge of sadness. There’s a ‘there goes my little girl’ feeling loitering in the pit of my stomach that I can’t quite shake. My baby – a tiny bundle of squidgy pink perfection only a few years ago – is now an intelligent, strong-willed young girl off to create potato-print masterpieces, balance eggs on spoons and basically do her own thing from 8.30am to 3.20pm every day. She doesn’t need me anymore!
The truth is though, all of my melodramatic meltdowns are easily outweighed by my enthusiasm to see her learn. I can’t wait to hear her daily reports in the years to come on Romans, football club and algebra (shudder), and I look forward to watching what makes her tick. At the moment, the four-year-old Edie wants to be an artist, a chef, a bead-maker and a traffic warden all at once. So what fascinates me is not really knowing what’s ahead for her. In other words, no one can predict what she’s going to flourish in, who her friends will be, which teachers will inspire her and what else might help shape her. To me, watching those possibilities open up for her is nothing short of thrilling.
Edie’s not really in the same boat as most children starting school for the first time – being at nursery, she already assumes she’s at school and all that’s happening in September is that she will be going up a year. Still, that’s not to say she won’t have those first-day nerves and insecurities.
As ever, I’ll be there with reassuring words and endless cuddles, but I know she’ll be fine because like most children, she has such an appetite to learn, and all she really wants to do is have fun and be with her friends – at school she can do all of that and more.
So, as we say farewell to the holidays and hello to a new school term, good luck to everyone who’s starting and returning. Whether you want to be an artist, a chef, a bead-maker or a traffic warden – or all four – stay in school, kids, and you can!
• From PTA barbecues to nativities, the school term is a relentless tsunami of dates for the diary. I keep on top of everything with my journal from Say Nice Things Stationery.
• My kids go nuts for nuts, and these handy sachets from Pip & Nut are great for keeping them going (and quiet in traffic) after school and before supper.
• Our favourite bedtime read at the moment is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, which tells the stories of remarkable women over the last 100 years.