Every child at Izzie’s nursery has their own draw, where they keep their works of art and the occasional letter to parents about fun days or charity events. Now the Headmistress is meticulous about keeping her drawers in order. Naturally I want to impress her, don’t worry I don’t run after her reciting my ABC’s but I do ensure Izzie’s draw is regularly checked and it’s contents commented on.
Besides I do actually enjoy seeing what Izzie’s been up to and reading what will be happening at nursery. It’s usually all happy, heart warming stuff. This week I found something much more serious though. Of course I knew I should expect it at some point but nothing could have prepared me for The School Application Form.
When I think of school I don’t automatically think of learning. I think of all the unimportant things which when you’re a child are so very important. Trivialites like picking Netball teams, the moral dilemma of who to choose? Who was going to win for you or who made you feel guilty about not picking them? You learn so many survival and social skills. I find myself wondering if they still play Kiss Chase. I never did figure out the best way to play that game, was it better to be occasionally caught and kissed or did I always enjoy the chase a little too much?
Although I moaned sporadicially for the time I was there, I had a great time at school and was happy with the grades I left with but I know some people who were desperately unhappy. And even though my school days were good there were moments I didn’t enjoy. I vividly recollect being called a “Four Eyed Brownie”. Remember National Health glasses? Well I was lucky enough to wear them. My Grandma used to say I looked like Nana Mouskouri. I think it was a compliment but no offence to Nana, few preteen girls want to look like her, trust me on this.
I’m also lucky enough to have an all year tan thanks to my Mauritian roots, so the child calling me this was accurate but hardly creative and this was probably the worst “name calling” I suffered. It must have annoyed me though for me to remember it so many years later. But I guess “name calling” is manageable to a degree. Now you hear words like “cyber bullying’ which despite much more abundant “health and safety” regulations make school sound like a truly terrifying place. Anyway, I digress what school should make me think of is learning.
I’m not sure how it works now but even at a very young age, children were pigeon holed when I was at school, the bright pupils were seperated from those below average. Those who were good at Languages were encouraged to take different classes to those who were good at Maths & Science. Does telling a child what they are good or bad at shatter their self confidence? I still believe confidence is the most important thing you can teach a child as it is so crucial for success and happiness as an adult.
So I find myself worrying that Izzie’s self belief may be crushed. I realise it’d be inappropriate for her to wander round still genuinely believing she’s a princess in 10 years time. It just seems odd that so many children want to be Astronauts or Firemen yet so many adults find themselves in dead end jobs they don’t enjoy. Is this merely because there aren’t enough glamorous jobs so they’ve got to make do with second best or just because they’ve had their spirit broken?
The uncertertainty of which school we will be offered is also bothering me. It seems a bit of lottery, getting the school you’d choose first for your child. I feel fortunate we live in a country where education is provided and I don’t feel I have the knowldege to allocate schools in a better way so this isn’t a polticial debate but it seems odd that something so important may be down to postcodes or luck.
We already completed The Application Form and we’ll know if Izzie is going to our first choice of school in April. Usually I feel better when something like this is dealt with but I still feel uneasy maybe becuase there is still so much uncertainty. Or maybe its simpler than that. Maybe my uneasiness is down to the fact school signifies the end of these brilliant baby years. If I’m honest I’m worried that in September 2013 I may find myself clutching the gates of some school in (hopefully) Derbyshire, blubbing because my baby has moved on.
I admit Izzie is coming to the end of her baby years. Recently on the days she doesn’t go to nursery, she has started to ask me if she can go. I try not to be insulted as I can understand why she wants to be there with her friends. Staff are much more easygoing about her wanting to bake or paint every 5 seconds and much more enthusiastic about her overuse of her favourite word “why”.
I can see that Izzie is starting to need more than I or the Toddler classes I take her to can give her. The whole point of successful parenting seems to be to give your child the skills to ultimately put yourself out of a job. Happily, I realise my work is far from done. I understand that during the school years it will still be my job to support her, to repair her spirit if it is ever broken and make sure she never loses her self belief. And as for privately shedding a discrete tear on her first day at school, well I guess that just might be my job too.