Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: What I Go To School For: My First Day at School

Thursday, 21 June 2018

What I Go To School For: My First Day at School


Yesterday was a big day for me. I had to walk into an alien environment, meet a room full of new people and convince them that I have friend potential; for yesterday was my first day at school. It was also my daughter's, but at some point a child has to learn that it's not all about them.

Best foot forward

Anyhoo, I stand in the playground with a mouth as dry as the desert, clammy hands gripping my bag and brandishing a smile that I hope radiates just the right amount of friendly but is potentially denoting a hint of lunacy. As I reluctantly leave the security of my toddler's hand hold, I feel exposed in my solitary state and have to navigate my way through the gauntlet of small talk with my daughter's potential new friends' parents. One minute I am terrified that I ooze inferiority amongst people who are far more experienced in these sorts of situations whilst the next, I fear that a stench of superiority clings to my person due to the unfortunate case of "resting bitch face" but what I am actually exuding is upper lip sweat. The holding pen which we have been shepherded, is built like a conservatory and has slowly peaked at the temperature of the sun. However, determined not to let my little girl down, I surreptitiously wipe my lip and broaden that smile, inducing a maniacal eye twitch that does nothing to reassure my peers.

Was I being measured up?

I desperately want to get this right as finding the right place for our girl in the education system involved long, hard deliberations, multiple financial assessments and more school visits than a workaholic HMIE employee with a bus pass. Eventually we chose to send our girl to a particularly lovely independent school. Now, where I was state schooled, my husband boarded and, quite frankly, we are both equally super and ended up in the same place and in the same profession (albeit briefly but that is another story). So I am not here to argue my case, defend myself and my family's choice or pretend that it's the right decision for everyone but for our little girl it is. So that is that.

However as a novice to the world of independent schooling,  I find myself fumbling about in the dark a bit; worrying about etiquette, my own ignorance and dress codes. In fact, as a person who is likely to be buried in her athletic wear, whose daughter stops doing whatever has captivated her attention this far to look her mother up and down with mouth gaping when she dons anything lacking the lycra stretch, a person whom has been known to frequent her husband's side of the wardrobe rather than her own; I will admit to getting into a little bit of a flap about what to wear on our first day. Should I look like I had:

A) Made an effort (giving the impression that I am ready to get involved - PTA here I come!)?

B) Just left the office (despite it being on one of my non-working days)?

C) Just left the play park ("check me, interacting with my prodigy! I only ever check my phone at nap time you know.")?

D) Just left the gym (suggesting that we have enough money that I don't need to work and can have my children in full time child care)?

How was I meant to look?! What was "the right impression"  to be giving? We should have been given guidance; we should have been given uniforms.

Too much?

This school business has got me all in pickle, and it's just because I want to get it right, for her, but do you know what I learnt from my first day? We are all in the same boat. Everyone was a little bit nervous and everyone was trying to make the best impression. I wonder what school will teach me next?


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