There are multiple lists out there about parenting. Ten things you didn’t know about becoming a parent, ten things you didn’t know about babies, ten things you never thought you would say to a toddler. So – here is my list about primary school children.
Except, to be different, I thought I would pare it down to five. Five things you didn’t know about having a school child.
I admit it. I’ve had nits. My friend has had nits. The mum down the road has had nits. All those perfectly manicured and coiffured mums at the school gates have spent an hour or more in the bathroom, hair slicked through with conditioner, dragging a nit comb through their hair and plucking the little bastards out.
You know why?
Because kids get nits. And at primary school especially, they hug and they cuddle and they share hairbands and get all close to whisper secrets and giggle – and all the while those little bugs are wandering from head to head, munching away on this scalp picnics and spreadings their eggs.
And, unless you check weekly, manically, at some point your kids will get nits. But you won’t know they have them for at least a fortnight, or maybe even a month, because it takes that long for the scritching and the scratching to start. By which time you’ve had your darling child for cuddles and for hugs and sleeping in your bed because of the scary monsters – and the nits had wandered from your child to you.
The worst thing about nits isn’t the having of them though. It’s being responsible and having to go tell the school, and your friend at the gates, and the child who had a sleepover last week.
Nits are the genital herpes of the playground – once you have them, you have to go and tell everyone you hugged in the last 30 days.
2. That Child
All mums know which child I mean. There is one in every class. The one that is rude, or cocky, or spiteful, or aggravates you for no real reason that you can work out. That is the child that your sweet, well behaved darling insists on having over to play every week, or wants for a sleepover, or that you are obliged to offer to care for because you are friends with the parents.
Once your child is at school you lose control of who they are friends with, at least part of the time. You can guarantee that they will spend all day playing with That Child and then ask you, in front of the mother, whether he/she can come play, just after you finished chatting about how you had the whole weekend free for a change, so you have no excuse prepared!
3. Homework is for parents
Over the last 5 years of having school age children I’ve designed a replica of a tudor house from the village with external wooden beams, a scaled Stonehenge with sand covered stones and an Egyptian sarcophagus, made from plaster of paris and complete with removable parts to demonstrate the desiccated organs.
Of course, I allowed my daughter to do some of the work. A bit of painting here and gluing there. But – well, she is a bit slap dash and messy, to be honest.
When she’s finished it looks like a child has done it.
mine ours were by no means the best in class.
The teachers know it. Don’t think they don’t. They just let us get on with it, partly because it’s ‘good for parents and child to work on a project together‘ but mainly because – well, they’ve got to get their kicks somewhere, right?
4. No one likes dress up days
We just had world book day. Parents all over the country – the world, presumably – were dashing about trying to get last minute costumes sorted that demonstrate just how literate their home is.
Some, like me, are content to just order a ready made outfit. Even that is stressful – do you know how hard it is to get a Harry Potter cloak with glasses delivered with next day delivery when half the country are after the same thing on the same day.
Lots of parents went even further. They actually made costumes – made them, with their own hands.
But let’s face it – no matter how much effort we are prepared to put in (because we have to make sure our child is at least on level pegging with the others) – no parent likes dressing up days, because it’s a pain in the butt.
The teachers don’t like them either. A school full of over excited children, dashing about, comparing wands and testing the versatility of rubber sword against plastic lightsaber, unable to concentrate on lessons or hear a single question.
Plus – teachers have to dress up too! Where was that in the teacher training examination, or all the government sponsored adverts?
I’m not convinced the kids are that bothered either, to be honest. Mine were a bit fed up at having to think of costume ideas, rejected the initial concepts I put forward based on 1. simplicity and 2. cost and backtracked over their final decisions at least 4 times each, before being given their cloaks and told to suck it up.
5. It’s all about the present
Parenting at primary school level is all judgement. Oh, sorry – I meant, judging.
We all know about ‘the cliques at the school gate’. You know – those other mums who stand in their group and get bitchy about the rest of us.
We, obviously, are not in that group, because we are not cliquey, or judgemental. We stand over here, not judging. You know, here, in our non-cliquey non-group of loosely bunched like-minded grown ups. Commenting on, observing, the people who stand in cliques. But not judging!
Whether you are one of the manicured mums, working mums, scruffy mums, gym mums, horsey mums, casual mums . . . we notice each other’s clothes, we notice each others hair, we note which of the boys have designer hair cuts, which girls are wearing short skirts or non-regulation shoes, which teacher is wearing incredibly high heels.
When kids come to our house to play we note their manners and behaviour. We remember which parents invited our kids to parties – or worse, didn’t invite them. And as for the presents! Well, we all hate the cost of shelling out presents for 15 or more parties a year. We all want to get the cheapest but most quality looking toy possible. But that does not stop us all noting the presents given to our own child and totting up the costs!
Let’s face it – primary school is just seven years of learning, developing and battling against other people’s opinions – and that’s just for the adults.
But don’t worry – I’ve heard secondary school is so much easier.
It is? Right?