September used to mean shiny shoes to break in and a spangly new pencil case full of sharp pencils of promise and Berol handwriting pens, so much cooler with the click down lid and pocket slider, had to be blue not black.
The smell of new books and the butterflies of self-doubt and trepidation for making it through a fresh school year with harder things to learn and a fresh teacher to butter up. It has somewhat excited me to be playing this game again as a mother, though maybe it isn’t quite as satisfying when you are the one paying, erm how much are school shoes!?
With homework coming home for the first time last week, I was instantly back in my childhood home down Maple Grove on a warm evening, pining after the swing set visible through the patio door, happy to take on the gnat swarm and my brother’s dangerous gauntlet game over spellings. I now find myself the mean mother who is making homework happen first. A few sayings firmly in my back pocket to encourage and discipline in equal measure, or a bribe or two, who am I kidding? It dawns on me we have a very long school career, better expand my repertoire.
Oh September, right on queue mum guilt builds with every step home. The school run over, Wilf asks for a cup of tea while we watch Blippi. The Youtube sensation from America who, though slightly better than the Ryan’s toy reviewers of the world, as he doesn’t ram new toys in their faces, might be the most irritating man to grace my screen since Piers Morgan, (with his own interesting back story, the less said the better, definitely don’t google Blippi before he was Blippi, haunting).
It has its educational moments, so I pat myself on the back for a job well done. Blippi can take credit for the colour recognition being solidified in Wilf’s mind, but I know full well we need to curb the TV watching and I need to bake a cake (or not, would need to be a healthy one right?), conduct a nature walk including nature bag, paint with pinecones, sing the national anthem in the downward dog position and then indulge in a spot of Latin before pick up.
The realisation hits that my dot of a Wilf starts Kindergarten now in less than a year and I am not totally convinced we have ever painted a picture together just us, completed a puzzle, just us, found an activity to do, just for us. He has been “along for the ride” so often but is by far the nicer natured child naturally, more confident and generally happier in his own skin, is it a coincidence or has my “fend for himself” at times attitude done him a favour for later life? Am I just making myself feel better, who knows?
The dreaded mum guilt is in the air. Talking to a few different friends these last few weeks, we are all dealing with our own guilt. The working mother, guilt at not being at home more for her children, the stay at home mother, guilt at not showing their children the value of hard work and money, the almost shame for having to ask your husband for a top up of cash for something.
The mum of a school starter, did you do enough to prepare your child, will they make friends, what if they are bossy, what if they get bullied, what if they are the bully?
The mum of a secondary school starter, how much do you do to help them, will they make new friends, will they get to school on time alone remembering all the bits they need?
The mum of a university starter, will they make new friends, will they cope being away from you, did you give them the best start in life? With all the above questions discussed over the weeks with different friends, the answer is yes. Our best is always enough and a warm safe bed, full tummy and love in our hearts are all the key components to a happy child and content adult.
I love September for a fresh start and new beginnings, much more so than January and I have my own butterflies of self-doubt back this year as I embark on my own learning again. Out of education for 10 years (yikes!) , I am starting a Masters in Journalism. My mum guilt eased a tad by the fact I am only there 2 days a week and my wonderful mother went part time to help with childcare. (She totally will conduct the nature walk in Latin too so in many ways I am doing Wilf lots of favours!) I hope you continue to read as I make sense of this next chapter.