Elvie has been at school for a month now. Crazy. It’s been one whole month since Joel butted into this otherwise classic ‘first day of school’ photo. Little monkey.
A month that’s seen more than it’s fair share of hairbrush related tantrums, 9am sighs of relief and reading folders full of pilfered stationary.
It’s been quite the adjustment. Elvie is learning a lot. As are we all. And so, flush with the spirit of continued, lifelong education, I thought I’d share my findings.
You, my friends, are welcome.
1. Hairslides are communal.
At nursery it was a miracle if Elvie ever wore a hairslide at all. Now she wears them everyday, due to a cunning combination of peer pressure, Frozen bribery (see 2.) and the ever-present threat of nits. She even brings them home. (The hairslides, not the nits. So far.)
On any given day, there is only a 50% correlation between the hairslides she starts the day with and the ones that come home. Which are normally newer ones. Shinier ones. ‘Donated’. Apparently. By any number of friends. Who, presumably, have the ones she started off with.
Honestly, I don’t mind all that much. Mostly because it feels like we’re winning. It’s the mum who keeps buying the sparkly butterfly clips that I feel sorry for.
2. The Elsa plait.
My outlook on hairstyling has always been somewhat relaxed. Meaning that Elvie usually looks like this.
Apparently that’s not uniform-compatible. Although it’s very cute.
Needless to say, the sudden requirement for sensible, actually-brushed hair did not go down well. With anyone. Especially not at 8am. We had screams, and shouts and possibly even a few punches. All over a stupid ponytail.
I was losing the will to live. Fast.
Until – my masterstroke. The ‘Elsa’ plait. Which consists of dragging her hair into a braid on one side of her head, and securing it with as many rogue hairclips as possible. In the vaguest of nods to the Ice Queen herself. It worked. And it still works. To the extent that Elvie walks into school every morning wondering if her friends will recognise her, or if they’ll think Elsa has “really come to our class.”
It’s the simple things.
3. Mean Girls start young.
Elvie is 4. Only just. Already the girls are mean. Every day brings a different child who isn’t speaking to her anymore. Or another run-in with the main culprit, one of the older girls in the class who “won’t be my friend unless we’re wearing the same thing.”
Nobody should have to watch their baby girl pulling her polo shirt down over her skirt so that “perhaps she won’t see the bow.”
I knew this would happen. Goodness knows I’ve been on the rough end of it enough times myself. I just didn’t expect it to start so early. At least she’s talking. We’re having plenty of chats about what makes a good friend. And why we don’t need to play with the nasties.
Urrrgggghhh. Thankfully she has lots of little boy-friends as well. For balance. And mud throwing. That’s more like it.
4. Timetables are a test. For parents.
Honestly. That early in the morning I’m lucky if I remember to take both children out of the door. Let alone bring some tinned food for the harvest festival. Or a water bottle. Or the sight words we were supposed to look at last night.
PE kit on a Wednesday. Unless it’s the alternate Wednesday, when they’re cooking. Wellies on a Thursday. For school in the woods. Raincoats. Warm coats. Weather appropriate socks.
Name labels in everything. School dinners booked before 9am. Parents evening slips to be returned. Assemblies to attend.
There’s probably an app to deal with all of this. But I bet you can’t get it on a Windows phone.
5. The marital status of your teacher is important.
At least, it is to Elvie.
Who marched up to her teacher, hands on hips, and asked “So, is there a Mr Hook?” Leaving me to profusely apologise for my four-year-old-Jane-Austen-matriarch.
Thankfully the actually-not-married-yet teacher thought it was hilarious. At least, that’s what she said.
6. School rules are easily misinterpreted.
For the first week of school, Elvie came home every day with eyes aglow, telling tales of the creative corner. Where she could find paper, pens, glue, scissors and all sorts of wonders. Available for her to use at any time. Whenever she liked. All under the banner of ‘please help yourself.’
Which is nothing short of heaven for my girl. Who has everything rationed at home. Partly for the sake of the trees. And partly to avoid too many incidents like this.
Seriously. Those arms.
It took me an entire week of siphoning lollipop sticks, reams of paper, glue pots and exercise books out of her reading folder to realise that the banner should perhaps be rewritten. To say ‘please help yourself, while you’re at school, to things you’re actually going to use in lesson time. If you want to use it at home, buy it.’
Yes, it would be a much longer sign. But it would halve their stationary budget.
7. Vanish* will save your life.
Or at least your sanity.
I have my suspicions that the school uniform industry is at least partly funded by the sales of laundry products. There is no other reason on earth that anyone would put a four year old in a white polo shirt and give them bolognese for lunch.
Unless it’s all part of a masterplan to reduce mothers to neurotic, paranoid wrecks who buy replacement clothing every week.
In which case, pink spraygun of power, I salute you. You and your stain-removing, mama-empowering skills.
Thank you. We are eternally grateful.
And only a little exhausted. Turns out school is tiring. Not just for the children.
Anyone for wine?
(*other stain removers are available. Whatever.)