Second time around

Our first day at School is still a week and a bit away. “Oh, for O?” I hear you say. No, O (4) is going into year one and F (2) will start Reception class.  “F?!” you yell “But he’s only 2!” Yes I know, but here (Spain) they start the year they turn three (Jan-December). Which is too young for my liking, but despite trying, there’s not a lot I can do about it. School doesn’t start until 15th September and we have had THREE months of holidays. Which have been manic and brill, but there have also been a large smattering of fractious moments, where a bit of  routine other than lunchtime would be handy. And as much as I have scraped the bottom of the barrel of `fun` things to do with not really very fun Mummy, I’m not Mr Maker,


or Bear Grylls,


or Mary Berry,


so they are quite looking forward to imminent schooldom.

Yesterday I took F to meet his new teacher, all the way there he was babbling excitedly and all was going deceptively well. Until we got to the school gate. He slowed down, and  started to walk backwards a la moonwalk and there was a wail. “But this is O’s school, not mine ” he yelps trying to peg it.  “But now you’re a big boy, and you get to go to big boy school” I say in my best over the top tour guide voice. He’s not buying it. “I’m 2, that’s not big” he reasons. “But you’re nearly 3 and you’re going to have a party!” I remind him. “No. Today I’m 2. Not a big boy” he retorts, basking in his cleverness.

This goes on for a while, and finally a squished laughing cow cheese I find in my bag coerces him through the gate. After what feels like forty days and forty two nights but is actually 27 seconds, we get to the classroom and in we go. He shuffles in and then shakes his head every time the teacher tries to talk to him. He gives her his drinking cup. She is surprised that it is a Frozen one. He sticks up for himself, “Anna and Elsa, MY princesses” he says matter of factly. The teacher relieved to have made a breakthrough, laughs and tells him that he might need to fight the girls away, as they will all want it. He goes quiet, the meeting is wrapped up, he bolts to the sink and grabs his cup. “It’s my cup, not no girls cup” he pouts and off he struts.

On the way to the car, I try to appease him and then just as we climb the hill to the car. He says in his own inimitable “Oh Mummy, silly you. We need to give this cup to the teacher” and i am promptly pulled down the hill, behind F as he strides through the playground and bounds into the classroom, pops the cup by the sink, gives the teacher a huge cheery wave and off he goes.

When F started nursery, I wasn’t remotely worried about it. He was my happy go lucky, giggling little F. What could go wrong?  So the first day of nursery, when I left him for half an hour, I sat happily outside feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing, which was a huge change from weeping like a willow, when I left O for the first time, a year previously. I went back in after 33 minutes, walked past the crying Mums in the entrance, giving them a sympathetic “Been there, done that but now it’s a breeze look” and knocked happily on the classroom door. Only the door was being barricaded by a headbutting, punching, angry 11 month old. Mine.

When I finally got in, both the teachers looked paler than sponge cake and were shaking ever so slightly, oh and the nursery director was there too. F lunged at me from the floor and clung angrily onto me and my boobs like an angry and disgruntled piglet. And my heart clunked into pieces. Yes, it was distressing seeing F like that, but I was distraught because I hadn’t for one second imagined that he would have any problems, not one. I had just presumed that my easygoing second born, would breeze on in without a second thought. Fail. “I don’t know him!” I sob to my Mum on the phone.

The next few weeks, were interspersed with doorbanging, my guilt, bit of pinching, all night long hugs and probably too many chocolate and ham based foods. Then one day, I handed him to his teacher and he didn’t give me a backward glance. I saw the colour come back to her cheeks and my feeling like Cruella de ville–ness started to subside. And soon, once he learnt to walk, he would waltz into the room, do a star jump, shake his wild hair and all his friends would come to greet him and I was pushed out of the room. He LOVED it.

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At the end of year meeting with his teacher, she told me that his induction  had been the worst one in the history of the Nursery. Ever. Followed closely by O’s. She leant forward and said guffawing “Remember, you were a wreck!”

Last night, F wouldn’t stop throwing lego at O’s head. I asked him if he wanted me to cancel his birthday party. He looked at me and says smugly “I’m a big boy Mummy, don’t need a party, Thanks”

I wait with intrepid curiosity for the first day and make a mental note to pop a hard hat in his school bag.