Tues 21 Aug
Sadly (for me), the day finally arrived when I had to pack off my tempestuous, funny little sausage (Midi Minx) to school, to join her big sister. She’d been looking forward to it as much as I’d been dreading it. Now her teachers get to hear her jokes and 4 year old witticisms. Now she’ll spend all her energy doing things away from me. Now she’ll give all her best smiles to other people. Yep – I’m just deeply jealous at having to share her a lot more.
When Maxi started school, we bought her a pretty pink Timex watch, even though she couldn’t tell the time. Midi knew we were getting her a watch, and had requested a black one (her favourite colour) with owls on it. A quick internet search showed only one that was also reasonably suitable for telling the time and coping with 4 year old hand-washing (ie a measure short of hosing down). So on Sunday, screeching through Inverness, I stopped by Argos and nabbed the only watch that Midi would love (and it was the last one in the shop – must have been fated). I was desperate to show her, because she’s bonkers about owls; has been for a few years, now. Instead we waited till this morning to show her. Her little face lit up and she cried, “My owl!”
I never iron my own clothes – ever – but do iron the girls’ uniform. I was about to ask the minxes if they minded wearing the same clothes as each other for a few days to make things easier for me to organise*, but they beat me to it and asked if they could be ‘matchy-matchy’. So blue gingham dresses, school cardigans, matching black patent shoes, matching blue gingham-edged socks it was. And they giggled over choosing identical hairbands and pants, too.
*organise: well, suddenly the amount of uniform to be stored has doubled. Or put it another way: of 21 minx-days in a week, 10 are in uniform. So that takes up a fair bit of wardrobe space.
I started the obligatory photo shoot with some pics of a double-decker bus and a tissue box that Maxi had made for her new teacher, Mrs L. Gosh, I hope she’s gentle of Maxi’s feelings and realises how much love and hope my little girl’s poured into those home-crafted gifts! (She put them on the special display bit of the room, to Maxi’s delight. And mine. She sounds like a really lovely teacher, and Maxi adores her already)
We took the uniform photos out the back garden, and I know I’ll be looking at them fondly again in years to come; the girls’ personalities really shines through. Maxi’s looking fretful, Midi is over-excited and so expressive, while Mini doesn’t know what’s about to hit her (her Fun 2nd Mummy is about to leave her for a big chunk of each day in the care of Boring 1st Mummy). Of course, I’m only showing you the funny one!
We walked down to school and in some ways it was like we’d never had a school summer holiday: the usual uncontrolled kids came bounding over, and my eldest 2 started veering towards the kerb, towards the path of some very sleepy, speeding, swerving drivers. And artics. My mouth switched into Nag Mode faster than I thought possible. Mini was ok, strapped to my back in her Fire Rainbow (which she’s started asking for!), but man, I wish some of the mums / grandmas / carers would have a think about NOT distracting other kids when they’re in the middle of crossing roads… Or if they’re going to do that, at least have the courtesy to keep their faces expressionless when I yell at my precious babies to watch out! or STOP! Because here’s a newsflash: my role is to get them to school safely, not to shepherd them to you every morning for a cuddle – cuddle your own!
There was a little boy, S, who Midi loved in nursery last year. He went through a biting phase, and bit a chunk out of her. I thought she was wary of him, but when he left to go to another nursery, she was broken-hearted. I discovered he was starting P1 with Midi and told her. She was so excited, and talked about it endlessly. So I mentioned it to his mum when I saw her. I don’t think she really believed me. But he walked through the school gate this morning right after Midi. She spotted him, shrieked his name, and launched at him with a huge bear-hug. Memories of Maxi and J last year!
I felt a bit torn as the bell went: Maxi stood at the front of her queue while I stood with Mini, half a playground away. I pushed through the thronging fellow-P1 parents to give a bewildered Maxi a kiss, then stood with Midi, ready to go in. Up till now all my attention had been on Maxi. I felt a bit like I was abandoning her, but I had to take Midi in. Well, I nearly didn’t – I had to push past some parents taking photos of their Little Darling in the queue, with one friend, with another, walking through the door, etc.
Now I know that despite being only 4, Midi is ready for school. She herself said only yesterday, to my consternation: “I’m ready for school! I can do tricks!” However, she walked into the class as nonchalantly as a very cool cucumber. She found her peg herself and hung everything on it. In the class, I fumbled a bit: “Oh, where’s your tray? Where should I put your water bottle?”
“Over here, and over there, Mummy”, she replied brightly.
I stood with her as she decided what to play with. We giggled at the Home Corner having a boiled egg breakfast laid out on it (what we had this morning), then stood around some more, gawping at Photo-Documentary parents recording every moment. Actually, I shouldn’t scoff – maybe there’s something wrong with *me* that I’m happy with a wee pic in the garden. After a minute of this, she turned to me and said, a note of exasperation in her voice: “OK Mummy, you can go now. Bye-bye, Mummy! Bye R!” and she kissed me and Mini and virtually ushered us out the door. So we left!
Me and The Boss had a bet that Midi would be on a warning within half an hour of arriving and on red by first break-time. I find it hard to believe that our little tempest actually appears to be a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I wonder how long that will last? Until she’s lulled everyone in a false sense of security, probably!
Two hours later, Mini and I walked down to pick up Midi. She was deeply disappointed at not being allowed to stay to have school dinners, and was very sad that she’d not been taught to read or write. I interviewed her over lunch with the camera, and on the video you can hear me choking back laughter at one bit:
Midi: “I saw my old teacher this morning, Mrs F!”
Me: “Oh? That’s nice”
Midi: “But I didn’t see Mrs M. She’s at a new school now. She had to go because she was too bossy”
Me: <splutter> “Oh? Who said that?”
Midi: <mumble> “My friends”
Blimey! Mrs M was lovely. I wonder where that came from?!
That evening, the minxes were over at their friends’ house, for L’s 4th birthday party. Old Foster Cat followed us all the way there, in the pouring rain, and waited outside for the 2 hours we were there. All the kids had a fantastic time. I enjoyed catching up with 2 of the mums, but felt very, very frazzled: when J (Maxi’s future husband, apparently) gets over-excited, he scream/shrieks. It’s the most piercing sound, ever. And he does it a fair bit. My ears were bleeding. I guess I’m not very volume-tolerant – teaching little kids would be the world’s most hellish job for me, if it didn’t come with a volume-control button.
I suspect that night there were a lot of very sleepy, tired children. Ours conked out within minutes.