My son starts pre-school in January 2016. Not laid-back play school like he’s been at for the past 18 months. But proper Grade 000 pre-school. With rules (for kids and adults) and structured programmes and such. It gives me heart palpitations each time I think about it. Mainly because as much as this signals that he himself is growing up and becoming a big boy, it also demands that I grow up and become more of an organised, more adult kinda mum. One who sets alarms and makes lunches and arrives on time. Oh dear gawd, please help me.
Do you ever feel as if you’re playing make believe with all this adult stuff? Like you’re winging it and it’s just sheer good luck that nobody has figured you out for the terrible adult-wannabe impostor you are? I do. All. The. Time. Even at the tender age of 35. Like, I’ll be in a meeting for work and somebody will ask me a very serious question and I honestly could say, “Hold up, everybody. I had you all going! I’m not really a grown-up. I’m just pretending to be one. Foooooled ya!” But I don’t. Obviously.
Anyway, let’s return to the school situation. So way back when Ryder was 6 months old, we bought into the mild panic in mommy circles that it was necessary to get your kid on a waiting list for your preferred pre-schools and primary schools from like the actual moment of conception. So we made enquiries, narrowed our choices down and attended parent visits to suss them out. We thought we were doing things pretty early, but when we showed up at one school and a woman with a big belly was putting her unborn child on the waiting list, we were like, oh ok, this ish is serious. I was crazy busy at work and didn’t want to spend too prolonged a time on… oh, you know, selecting the institution that would nurture and develop my son’s brain and body in partnership with The Hubster and I… so I had 3 schools on my list. That’s it. Two of them were close to where we live and the third was closer to my work and also happened to be the one my 4 nieces and nephews attended. The latter was our Preferred School #1. It just gave us good vibes and it helped that we knew a bit about it from having had family there a few years ago. #3 took itself off the final list thanks to a slightly awkward principal who seemed really uncomfortable around people.
School #1 was the first to accept Ryder earlier this year for next year. I was thrilled. We took the spot without hesitation. In fact, the hesitation only came AFTER declining School #2’s spot. Had we made the right decision? #2 is closer to home, although it would still take both my husband and I off our normal route. Crucially, it is much closer for Ryder’s grandma who will be doing the half-day pickups for us. School #1, however, is a 3 minute drive away from my workplace, but at least 15 minutes away from home if there is no traffic, which of course there will be. Most importantly, it’s going to require us to shave about an hour off our morning times in order to get there on time, by 7.45am at the very latest as they require.
That last point is the one causing me to fret the most. I am not a morning person. I am also not a very punctual person. Throughout my high school life I lived no more than 5 minutes away from my school, yet I was always late. Like always! We once lived on a hill opposite my high school and my classmates would be sitting in 1st period English class watching me scurry down the driveway at 8.25am while I waved to them in the distance in partial embarrassment. It is a terrible habit that I have never quite shaken. Right now, both work and Ryder’s play school start at 8am. Once we’ve been through tantrum number 443 for the morning and he’s eaten, washed, dressed, etc we’re usually dashing out the door with a few minutes to spare. Luckily his current play school is just down the road, so we get there by the skin of our teeth . Then it’s a 15 minute freeway drive to work. Late. Always late. For everything.
As crazy as my mornings currently are (because Ryder is also going through a phase where mommy must do absolutely everything and nobody else!), I admit there are a lot of usual mommy tasks that I do not need to do. Lunches are a big task for me. #DontJudge but I do not make them for myself, my husband or my son. Ryder’s current school provides all meals and snacks, so I’ve been lucky in that regard.
However with him now starting at a school that will require a healthy snack each day, you would think I’ve been called upon to cook a 10 course meal for 50 royal guests. It is stressing me out, especially because we are going through a fussy eating stage right now. And did you notice I said, “snack”, not lunch? Because he’ll be finishing school at midday, all the school requires mums to send is a healthy, but filling, snack for their mid-morning break. I have been scouring Pinterest for all the Bento Box inspiration I can possibly find. I cannot let my flaky mum approach shine through for all to see via my child’s lunchboxes. I just can’t.
The final point stressing me out about pre-school is toilet training. But that deserves its own post entirely, because it has been a total biatch and I hate it with all of my soul.
I know we will figure this new chapter out. That somehow I will make it work. I know this is an opportunity to grow up and hopefully allow my son’s presence to continue to alter me in ways that it already has done so far. We’re going to do this. Even if I’m the mum who arrives at 8am, blocks the school driveway with my car and throws the kid out with his lunch box of processed food, I am still his mum. And really, that’s more than enough.