The worst mother in the world?

There are 200 children that attend Big and Medium’s primary school. The majority go in smiling and excited about their day ahead. Big absolutely loves school. She skips in, and comes home full of news about her day. She strongly believes that her teacher is a real-life princess. So does Lovely Husband.

Medium, on the other hand, hates it. As soon as she wakes up, she’s surly. She doesn’t want to eat breakfast or get dressed. Eventually, she’ll come round enough for us to feed her and get her ready for school. She’s subdued on the journey there, but usually bounds into the playground happily to play with Big and her friends.

But then the bell rings to start the school day, and to start Medium’s tears. Her response is almost Pavlovian. “Ooh, bell – I must cry.” The Reception children face a long walk from the playground to their classroom. It’s even longer when you’re grasping your sobbing child’s wrist and half pulling them up the path, before untangling them from your leg and bowling them into their incredibly kind and patient teaching assistant.

I have tried staying with her, but it makes her worse. I have tried putting notes in her pockets and giving her something of mine to ‘look after’. I point out a particular cloud or some other landmark each morning and tell her that every time she looks at it, Mummy is looking too and that I’m never far away. I tell her what she’ll have for tea so she can look forward to it. I tell her the exact time I’ll be picking her up. I excitedly wonder if the dinosaurs will be out for her to play with, and if her friends will have bunchies or plaits today. Nothing works. She’s developed a vocal tic that disappeared over half term, but returned as soon as her uniform was laid out.

I’m left wrung out before the school run is over, and constantly questioning myself. Medium is only four. She doesn’t legally have to be at school, and I wonder if I’m damaging her somehow by making her go. I’ve considered deferring, but she’d lose her Reception year and the jump to Year One is big enough without that hurdle to cross too. The speed at which they rattle through the early phonics – something she doesn’t find easy anyway – in Reception rules out the possibility of her losing that year. Put simply, she has to go.

This week, she starts part-time hours and breakfast club twice a week to see if that eases the anxiety she feels at leaving me. She’ll miss assembly for a while, and school are trying to work out coping strategies for her at lunch times. They’re supportive, and we’re meeting regularly to come up with new ideas to make this easier for her.

But nothing makes it easier for me. My guilt at leaving her so unhappy lasts all day. It’s exhausting. Medium is my sunshine child; the child that smiles all day and throws out so much love. I just wish she’d come out from behind this cloud.

Advertisements
The worst mother in the world?

A letter to Medium’s teacher

Dear Reception Teacher

RT (do you mind if I call you that?), there are some things that you need to know. I realise you’ve been doing this job for donkey’s years. There’s not much that you don’t know about children. You’ve encountered all sorts of personalities and brought the most unruly into line. I know that. I respect that. But this little fuzzy haired blonde in the line? She’s mine.

I know that all children are special. I know that every mum standing in line with their child will be giving you the same doleful, anxious eyes as they hand their child over to begin their school career. I know you don’t want to see our tears or take on board our anxiety. And you’re right: We’re adults and your concern is educating our babies.

But that’s just it. These are our babies. Medium has only just turned four. She’s the youngest in the year. You don’t care if she can write her name (she can’t), but you’d like her to be able to dress herself and wipe her own bottom. She tries, I promise, but it’s hit or miss. She is only just four. I don’t always see the capable little girl that she’s growing into. Sometimes I still see the big blue eyes staring out of her baby blanket and remember the first day that beautiful face broke into a smile.

That face smiles a lot. She’s a cheerful soul. She’s the kindest child I’ve ever known, always first to pick up her sisters if they’ve fallen, ready with a kind word if her brother is crying and happily approaches other children to join in her games. She’s great at sharing and she makes friends easily.

Her imagination is incredible. Her role-play is legendary, with her often staying in character for weeks. And when she’s in character, so is everyone else. It can be exhausting.

She sounds a dream, right? Not always. She’s complicated. Medium feels things so deeply and she’s easily hurt. A slight from you will take her weeks to get over. If a friend says a harsh word, it wounds her. She doesn’t retaliate. She doesn’t fight back. She just takes her hurt and stores it away. So, please… Please don’t let her get hurt.

She worries; she really worries. She’s worried about starting school, and change unsettles her. She’s a homebody at heart; her favourite times are when she has her family around her in her own home. She’s going to find starting school tough. I won’t be there and, as far as she’s concerned, a few minutes on Mummy’s Lap can end wars. Mummy’s Lap won’t be there, and that makes a the knot in my tummy twist.

You need to know that she still sleeps with her cuddly Horse, now somewhat loved a bit too much. She’ll shout for him if she’s hurt herself. Is it okay to pop him in her backpack or is that too ‘baby’? Remember, she is my baby after all.

I know you’re great and I know how well you took care of Big, but I look at my newly four-year-old Medium and she just seems so young to be joining the playground throng so soon.

So RT, I give you my Medium and I beg you to remember that Big School is a big deal – not just for Medium, but for me too. I beg you not to change her. She’s awesome as she is.

Love

Second-time Reception Mum x

 

A letter to Medium’s teacher