DADDY UNCOOL: The dizzying highs and exhausting lows of parenting two little girls.


#5 Starting School

 The first week of September is always a momentous week for parents and children starting school for the first time, and this year it was our turn. Our Blondie was to begin the school journey from little child to young woman. To be honest, though, I had been looking forward to it for some time…


That may sound a bit selfish or cold, but Blondie’s desire to learn, and low boredom threshold, can be exhausting, and the daily routine of school will help her blossom no end, hopefully. Although Blondie is incredibly loud and bolshie at home, she can be very anxious and shy out of her comfort zone, and while there’s nothing wrong with shyness, it is a shame that it sometimes holds her back and people don’t see her witty, entertaining side. Morrissey hit the nail on the head when he sang “Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you, from doing all the things in life you’d like to”. I have watched her at parties and large gatherings and seen myself as a shy child all over again; a shyness that could often be mistaken for sullenness.


However, I never went to nursery, and the transformation we’ve seen in Blondie’s behaviour is a credit to the staff at our local one. Mummy Cool would often report back during those first few months about how she’d dragged her there kicking and screaming, (or had to bribe her with a trail of jelly beans and the promise of a Kinder egg) leaving her in tears and worrying how she was going to get through the day. We would hear of her shyly refusing to take part in games and songs and would feel frustrated, but the nursery staff helped her grow no end, particularly in the last year, and her time there could only help prepare her for starting school.


All the preparation in the world can count for nothing when you’re dealing with 4-5 year olds, though. If I asked her in the run-up about school, her response was either enormously encouraging, or worryingly negative. For example, with arms folded, “Oh great, I have to go there EVERY SINGLE DAY, and only get TWO DAYS OFF.” I nearly replied with “Welcome to the real world, love!” but then remembered she wasn’t a sarcastic teenager. To be fair, it’s hard to tell sometimes…


So what happened on the big day? Well, it all went fine I’m happy to say. One of my earliest memories is my first day at school, so if Blondie was going to remember hers as clearly, I hoped it would be for good reasons. Only one wardrobe change happened that morning (again, what’s with all this carrying on like a teenager?) and Blondie was excited and happy in her uniform and proudly looking at the school badge on her cardigan. And, as you might have guessed, it was her parents that were the emotional ones. It’s a weird one, seeing your baby girl ready for school, and it brings up all kinds of feelings, but by far the worst is the profound sense of loss. You spend those first few years wiping arses, cleaning up sick and answering endless childhood questions waiting for school to come, and for good reason, because parenthood can be bloody hard work. But then, suddenly, those days are gone, and as I walked, tightly holding hands with Blondie, I was glad my eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, because I realized this little girl, before I know it, won’t be seen dead holding my hand in the street.*


Despite some natural reticence entering her classroom for the first time, she had a great morning, and more importantly, an even better second day. She’s already coming out of her shell and making new friends. So all is good so far, and we’re lucky that we still have years left before Red is wearing her first school uniform, so we’ll make the most of the next few years. However, I just took a break from typing this to ask Blondie if she was looking forward to Monday morning and she said “I”ve been going to school for a long time now, how long is left?” and we had to point out she’s only done two days out of many years and she didn’t look best pleased.


Oh, and what’s all this awful after-school behaviour when kids get home all about? I understand that several hours of being well-behaved results in the need to let off steam but bloody hell… And I’ve heard conflicting reports of how long it lasts too, from six weeks, to three months, to… eleven years.


*No word of a lie, as I typed the bit about holding Blondie’s hand, Simply Red’s Holding Back the Years came on at random on the TV in the background. Now believe me, I’m no fan of Mick Hucknall, but I dare any parent to not find that poignant. The only other time Simply Red have seemed remotely meaningful to me  was when Rodney married Cassandra and poor Del Boy stood alone after the wedding on Only Fools and Horses. Sob.


DADDY UNCOOL: Parent Blog has been written by a local East Riding dad, check him out on Twitter @Daddyuncoolblog and daddyuncool on Facebook