Monday, 8 October 2012

Pants, patience and the low down from school!

At just over one month into Ellie’s first year at school I thought it was about time for an update on how we were getting on and what’s happened over the month. So here are our headlines from the first month.

Ellie went to school without pants - Ooops
Ellie is at that age where she wants to do everything for herself. Mornings are busy getting us both ready and out, so her growing independence is a blessing and I lay her clothes out so that she can get dressed ‘like a big girl’ every morning. I’ve become so confident with it that I’d stopped checking and there was my mistake.

On Friday last week Ellie apparently realised as she sat on the carpet for group time that she didn’t have any pants on. Of course being just 4 and a half she just took a practical approach and quickly told Mr M, the teaching assistant who told her to go and get her book bag (which holds her spare clothes). A quick look in the bag revealed spare pants and Ellie was duly sent to the toilet to put them on. Ellie was entirely nonplussed about the whole event, I on the other hand did pale slightly when she finally remembered to tell me.

I was debating if the headline should be mother embarrassed as… but actually I’ve decided to be amused by the whole thing instead. After all, I’m sure that worse things have happened and so far, there’s been no mention of it from the school so I haven’t had to blush in public.

Mum finally gets the low down on school
Those of you who’ve read my previous posts will know that one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with is not having any idea what Ellie is getting up to at school. I am aware that this sounds a little like a control freak and well….I definitely have those tendencies…but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to want to know what Ellie has been up to. The hot news is then that one month on its fair to say there have been a number of successes in this area –whoop whoop to that!

·        Following several people’s friendly advice as a result of my original post (thank you all), I’ve started asking Ellie more specific questions about school to prompt her, rather than general ‘what did you do today’ or ‘how was school’. It’s such a simple thing but has made a mountain of difference.

·        We now have a home/school communication book and I love it! I used it to ask Ellie’s teacher about parents evening, explaining that I need as much notice as possible to sort my work so I can attend. Hey presto – Ellie’s teacher provided the dates and allowed me to book my slot with her. That I think deserves another whoop whoop!

·        Ellie has started to bring work home including a library book, a reading book and some key words to learn. All of these things have provided a great opportunity to talk to Ellie about what she’s done in the day.

·        Finally, I’ve developed an uncanny ability to glean information from all over the place – other parents (including people I’ve never spoken to before), my nephew (who attends the same school but is older), my nephew’s friends (who couldn’t wait to tell me what they’d seen Ellie doing) and so on. So, I hear you ask, what has she been doing? Well I now know that:
  • ·        they’ve learnt several letter sounds and their associated rhymes
  • ·        done PE (physical education) lessons a couple of times at least
  • ·        been to the library and;
  • ·        that she has even sat with boys at lunchtime! (Oh and pack lunches are generally going down well and being eaten.)

Crisis caused by pigtails
Last week was Ellie’s first week of full days at school so inevitably she’s been exhausted. On Monday night she was in bed at 6.40pm and asleep almost instantly. I know when Ellie is tired she is grumpy and little things become a big problem, it’s a trait I sadly share. She manages to hide this from everyone except me of course, but that’s because I’m her mum and because I get, by default of working full time, the best parts of the day; getting up and bedtime.

Unfortunately, more often than not, when she’s tired so am I, so I really do battle with myself and work to remain calm. I manage it a lot of the time, but sometimes...for example this Friday morning… I just don’t.

We were running late (my fault not Ellie’s) so I did not have time to do pigtails and therefore sensibly opted for a single plait. On discovering this (it took her a minute to realise) Ellie went into full meltdown - screaming, shouting and messing up her hair with both hands. I’m sure you can picture it. Well, the phrase ‘red rag to a bull’ springs to mind and I instantly lost any ability to remain calm. I found myself yelling at Ellie to stop and saying that she’d have to go to school like that, because I wasn’t doing it again now. Eventually I told Ellie to go to her room and when she refused, I found myself going to mine!

This isn’t the most grown up thing I’ve ever done and as I write this I am blushing just slightly. But I am only human and after quietly closing my door I took a few deep breaths and quickly established a little composure. Within 30 seconds I was back out and behaving much more mum like!

By the time we parked up outside the child minders the moment had passed and we’d had several conversations about our weekend plans. I took the return to calmness as the opportunity to talk to Ellie about what had happened. I told her that I was sorry I had lost my temper but that sometimes Ellie needed to listen. Rather proud of my grown up moment I looked over at Ellie to see her response. Ellie’s answer was given in a suddenly very shaky and upset voice: ‘all my friends have their hair in pigtails so I wanted the same’. Oh. I of course promised to do pigtails on Monday and spent the journey to work berating myself for not being patient and for shouting at her over pigtails which probably would have been quicker to do than the time it took to argue (and a lot less stressful).

I know I’m not the only mum out there who has these moments so let’s all be reassured together that it’s normal! It is normal isn’t it?! 

And so – the end of another post! As always, I’d love to hear from you and I’d be delighted if anyone wanted to share their experience of the first month at school.
Please use the comments below or contact me via twitter @sharonmsmyth


  1. Ah it's the end of Scamps first 7 weeks at school now and I am just about getting into a routine now - often I can be found running around at 8.20am hunting a biro down so I can write that she's read a book in a little reading booklet and generally forgetting stuff. It gets better!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment and sorry for my tardy reply! I'm glad it's not just me and grateful for the reassurance! I shockingly forgot to put her reading books in her bag for reading day last week. Ellie kindly let me off with a 'it's ok mummy' and a look that was remarkably like the sort I give her! lol