My daughter started Year 1 today, having completed her first full year of school in 2015. Walking into school today, I felt like a battle hardened warrior, ready to lend an electric pencil sharpener and 1st Reader calloused hand to blubbering Mums and Dads on their first day. Because let’s face it, 99.99% of kids don’t remember their first day at school. It’s really more of a parental milestone: the first day of state sponsored realisation that time waits for no parent despite the fact that minutes turn into days between the hours of 5pm and Go The Fuck To Sleep time.
It’s the mother and fathers out there who will recall the smell of disinfectant and new paint covering last years scuff marks, the plastered smiles of teachers who wished they were still on holidays and are instead counting down to Week 10 and Easter. It’s the feeling of a lump in your throat and tears gushing out of your eyes whilst you hiccup your way out the gate, having left your child to sit somewhere else for 8 hours a day for the next 13 years or so. Oh the humanity!
So here’s the checklist for getting through it:
1. Take tissues.
That’s it. The first day of school is brutal. For you. If they cry they only cry for a few minutes then they start sticking something shiny to something else and a butterfly floats past the window and then … what? Colouring in time! Here’s a story! Let’s stick more cardboard boxes together and call it all manner of shit like a pet house and you can take it home to clutter up your parent’s house in a never ending procession of recycled stuff that is really REALLY important and can never be thrown out except under the cloak of a moonless night with the garbage truck coming the next day at Sparrow Fart!! But you will cry. Hard. Have tissues.
2. Plan something you can’t do when your child is with you.
If you’re feeling slightly irresponsible now that you have been unyoked from your child for 8 hours and you don’t mind a champagne brunch you could do that. Personally I think a luxurious coffee and cake I don’t have to share is probs a bit more at the Jessica Alba end of the Klassy Parenting Spectrum than at the other end where Kate Moss hangs out from time to time but whatev’s- you’ve got 7 hours left do what you like! If you’re into self-flagellation you could sift through their baby photos and pine for when they didn’t talk back or prefer Sofia the First to a game of peek-a-boo.
3. Upload a photo to your preferred social media platform.
Everyone else is doing it so what’s the problem? You’ll get lots of affirmation that yes, it’s a hard day and yes, aren’t they grown up and yes, they look totes adorable even with that lopsided hairdo. (FYI tying a kid’s hair up is a LOT harder than all the other parents make it look.) And you’ve got at least 6 hours left so there’s no parental guilt about surfing through Facebook and liking everyone’s pictures of Australia Day.
You shouldn’t really do this but you probs will since it’s such a milestone plus you might still be tipsy from that champagne you had at brunch. The reason you shouldn’t make a fuss about what’s going to happen after school is because they’ll be so tired. You could wave a chocolate cake filled with Mars bars, topped with M&Ms and served on the back of their brand new puppy and you’ll only get a passing glance or a shrugged shoulder. Kids are BUSTED after their first day of school. Buy a finger bun on the way to pick up, let them eat it in the car on the way home and prepare yourself for a spectacular Witching Hour. (Wine is the best way to deal with this, especially since Feb Fast or whatever other crazy diet you’re going on doesn’t start for a few days.)
5. Make their school lunch for tomorrow.
Yep, you’ve got to turn around and do it all again tomorrow but on less energy and without the high excitement factor.
Oh truly, it is a wonderfully poignant time full of excitement and tears. Good luck!