School Visits. An introduction to the world of Schooldays, for wide-eyed soon-to-be schoolkids.
Some schools do them better than others.
We are some of the lucky ones - our school does them fabulously.
They learn where to hang their bag, and how to sit beautifully on the mat.
The sing the alphabet song and listen to stories.
They meet the new entrant teachers, soon-to-be classmates and participate in an actual school morning for a whole hour and a half.
By the time their first real schoolday rolls around, they know what to expect; they hit the ground running.
Last week was Scrag's first school visit.
Of course with a big brother and a big sister already at school, AND a Principal's Award sticker tucked away already, Scrag was uber-confident.
Maybe just a smidge TOO confident.
He already knows a bunch of kids in the group. He even has a (now defunct) school uniform which he insists on wearing.
On the mat, his confidence overflows... he is, if anything, a bit too chatty. A bit too vocal to his mat-mates.
"Scrag! Are we sitting beautifully?" "Scrag, eyes on me..." "Boys... Scrag... no talking, just listening now..." I hear the teacher say repeatedly.
Over to my left is a mother cuddling her child on her lap (lets call him... Fletcher). She gives me one of those looks. Self satisfied. Smug. Her child isn't being asked to sit nicely, stop talking.
Soon it's time to do some crafting. A bit of Easter bunny art.
Crafting and drawing is not Scrag's strong suit.
Give him a tree to climb or a race to run, and then we'd see him shine.
He doesn't have the patience to sit and colour carefully within the lines.
A slap dash scrawl of red pastel on the bunny's head. That'll do, Scrag thinks, and he's off to the next thing.
Fletcher sits carefully shading his picture beautifully; no slash of red turning his bunny into a Halloween victim...
Fletcher's mum glances across at Scrag's abandoned effort and smirks. I kid you not.
It's the same look she gave me when Fletcher sat on her lap while Scrag "made himself known" on the mat.
I feel myself cringing at the condescension I feel emanating from this woman.
I look around for evidence that other kids... other BOYS... are as slap-dash with crayons as my lovely lad...
Oh dear. Everywhere I look I see carefully coloured wall-worthy masterpieces.
It's OK, I remind myself. Scrag is clever at other things. He's great at counting...
It's time to paint our kids' feet, print them onto paper and turn them into bunny ears.
Scrag giggles as the teacher paints his feet.
The teacher is astounded by the size of Scrag's hoofs.
"Those are mighty big ears!" she says admiringly.
"Size two," I say proudly. "ADULT Size two." (Playing to our strengths here. We are tall. And Strong.)
We finish towel-drying our feet and return to our table, where Fletcher is still colouring.
The teacher approaches and says, "Would you like to come and have your feet painted, Fletcher?"
Fletcher recoils and shakes his head.
His mum speaks for him: "Fletcher doesn't feel very comfortable with having his feet painted," she says with a grimace.
Each to their own aye? We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Our kids too.
Not everyone's a future Monet. Some of us are better at other things.
I look down at my sweet boy's bunny picture with the horror show face and the giant ears.
It's priceless. Precious. Not to be compared.
So. It's after midnight and I find myself sitting up writing this, thinking about tomorrow's school visit - taking myself in hand.
I will not let myself cringe if Scrag is loud, chatty. He knows how to behave; he has lovely manners. (He just gets excited when he gets with his buddies).
I will not compare Scrag's name-writing and bunny-drawing with the child of a teacher (who knows how to make learning fun) or a quiet little lad who doesn't like his feet painted but who can sit for hours and draw inside the lines.
Each to their own.
I will not care what people think. (He'll be fine Simoney, he will).
My boy is lovely and bright and special and 100% pure energetic BOY.
He's a lovely little lad, sweet natured and fun-loving.
All the rest will follow.
That's why they are going to school, to learn.
(can you tell I'm a somewhat nervous new-to-school mother? even doing it third time round?) (do you know what mean? ever felt this way?)