Back to school

“How many days until I start Year One Mum?

I’ve been asked that question a good few hundred times over the past five weeks. Whatever my answer, Tom’s response is always “Yesss!” followed by lots of jumping and chanting.

“Year One! Year One! Year One!”

Year One will actually be Tom’s third year at full time school and he’s getting quite into it now.

Summer was brilliant this year, but it vanished fast. I’ve packed the camping stuff away. There’s a bit of a chill in the air and the back yard smells sour from the fallen damsons in the alley. I feel something like unsettled. Getting ready for the start of school makes me nervous about the playground. Then there’s the reminder that Tom is properly growing up; that in the same flash of time that has passed since he was born, it will be time to look at high schools. It felt as though I had the back to school nerves and Tom had escaped them.

But today, we were walking to the corner shop when he stopped suddenly and stared at his shoes.

“Mum, are you sure I look old enough to be starting Year One?”

“Definitely. What makes you ask that?”

“I just don’t feel like I look old enough.”

“Well you do and you are, even though I can’t quite believe it myself.”

“Why can’t you believe it?”

“You’re just getting big very quickly,” I said.

After the bedtime story tonight, I flicked off the light and walked out of the room and he called me back.

“What is it?” I said.

“I am ank-shush about Year One.”

“Anxious is a big word, where did you learn that?”

“I don’t know, I just know it.”

“Well, you’ve got nothing to be anxious about. You’re doing brilliantly at school, just look at that trophy.” I was desperate to reassure him; you don’t ever want your child to be worried about anything.

“I really really am very ankshush.”

“What about?”

“Well, I’m worried that my writing won’t be good enough.”

“Welcome to my world,” I wanted to say “I was up until five am on Saturday morning thinking exactly the same thing.”

Of course I couldn’t really say that.

“You have nothing to be worried about at all. Your writing looks great so far. And the whole point of school is that you learn, anyway.”

I hugged him and left him when he promised me (with a big grin on his face) that his anxiety had gone.

Handwriting or book-writing; it’s all nerve-wracking stuff. I wish I could go back to school with this half-finished manuscript. I wish there was someone to write in the lines and mark my mistakes and give me a tick and a smiley face on the bits that are good.Writing a book on your own is difficult. There’s no way of knowing if your writing is good enough.

I’m off to write Tom’s name in his new school stuff with a marker pen, because I forgot to buy the little name tags he normally has. Now that writing definitely isn’t going to be good enough. Sorry Tom.

Are there any parent writers in Manchester who would be interested in setting up some sort of weekend writing group that somehow fitted in with childcare and work? Could the children all play in a room while we discussed our work? Or if we could get babysitters, we could do it in the evening? Please get in touch if you’d be interested.

Bye Summer 2011, you were ace.

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