Motherhood is hard.
Really fucking hard.
And not just hard in that you might have to learn to survive on 6 hours sleep or develop the kind of negotiation skills that would make a seasoned copper proud but because you realise that what you thought were the hard decisions: How shitty a mother would I be if I didn’t breast feed? When exactly should I start to move The Girl out of nappies and into ‘big girls knickers’? What age should I send her to nursery, is 2½ too young, aren’t the hard decisions at all.
Sure, they’re tough but they’re not the really tough choices (I use italics to emphasise my point – you’ll see that a lot in this post…..)
The really tough choices start when you have to begin thinking about schools!
I now fully appreciate the decisions, the choices and the position my mum was in when we were little.
I kind of feel like I should apologise for not being more understanding about it all. But I was 5 at the time so wont bother.
I’m not entirely sure why I thought that the transition from nursery school to primary school would be a) smooth and b) decision free but I was very, very wrong.
Wrong on a couple of levels:
The smooth element I mentioned has got about as much chance of materialising as I have of being married by the Pope. Why? Because I’m having to mentally prepare The Girl for the move NOW.
Now?! She doesn’t start primary school until September 2010!
And I’m not just having to get her used to the idea of big school, but used to the idea that she will probably have to make new friends, will have to wear a uniform and wont be allowed to wear her pink shoes. I think that this was the part she found most upsetting for her because ‘Mummy, I don’t like black shoes’
The decision free element – well, I couldn’t have got that any more wrong had I actually tried. I thought she could just move from nursery to the primary school that the nursery is attached to without question or reason. Apparently not. And what’s more, I don’t just have to think about one school I HAVE TO PICK FOUR OF THEM!
What the fuck?
And as if narrowing it down from 30 schools in the county to just 4 wasn’t bad enough, I have to think about how the school is ranked in the league tables and how the government rates it for areas like performance, teaching ability, leadership and the overall development of the child and then rank them in order of my preference.
Again, what the fuck?
So now I’m not only faced with the dilemma of having to pick 4, but I’m faced with the prospect of making sure I don’t send her to a shitty school where she won’t learn anything.
The school pack that the council sent me was a thick as the bloody bible and it cited just as many rules, regulations, sub regulations and admission policies that I HAD to read because EVERY one of them was relevant.
One week. That’s how long it took me to trawl through it only to realise that half of it was complete and utter shite. Why do I care what the schools registration number with the council is?
Anyway, I looked through each and every school. You know, just in case. Carefully thinking about where the school was in location to me, where it sat in the league tables, how OFSTED had ranked it, how many children it took in each year and whether I needed to fill additional forms to the ones I’d been sent.
I managed to narrow it down to 6.
J and I decided that we had to get a feel for the schools so had to ring them to see if they were doing an open day where we go and have a look around.
Pretty much every conversation went like this:
School Receptionist: Hello can I help you?
Me: Oh hello. I’ve received the application pack from the local council. My daughter is due to start primary school in September 2010 and I’m wondering if you’re having an open morning for us to come and have a look round your school?
School Receptionist: We’ve already had our Open Days.
Me: Oh. I’ve only just received the pack from the council. Do you have open days before the packs come out?
Me: Um. OK. Are you doing any additional viewings and tours for parents who missed them first time round?
SR: Probably, I’ll check with the headmistress. When was your daughter born? Is she your only child?
Me: 2006. March. And yes, she’s my only child, why do you ask?
SR: Common mistake new parents make when it comes to schools and open days. We often have them calling after we’ve had them. Hold please.
Great. Not only have I potentially missed the open days but she could end up a sub standard school with children who can’t function in polite society because I was late in asking for an open day appointment.
In each case we were given dates to go and view the school to see what we thought and have a small tour of the facilities.
You know, I don’t remember my mum doing this!
So many questions rile round your head before the visits: What if The Girl doesn’t like it? What if I don’t get a good vibe from the school? What questions should I ask? Will I have to seriously rethink all my options? What happens if she isn’t offered a place at any of the schools I choose?
It’s a bloody nightmare really and something else my mother didn’t prep me for.
That aside, I’ve viewed schools, filled out the paperwork and returned it. I sat for a week or so waiting for a decision of for someone to tell me which school she’d be going to.
Turns out I wont know till April 2010 and have to wait.
Patience is not a virtue I possess.