My youngest son starts school in September. Once they cross the threshold of the playground for the first time, they never really come back, as we learnt when his sister started a few years ago. Time speeds up. They read a word, then a sentence. Then, there's the horrifying moment you realise they can read each and every swear word in whatever Facebook post is left open on your computer screen too - think on that when you're weeping into your empty house on school day one.
However, here's what we learnt from last time, to prepare parents everywhere for when your child starts school:
1. Name tapes
You could probably save yourself at least two hours of your life by taking a sharpie and simply writing 'KEEP IT' on the labels of all that school uniform you've just lovingly ironed name tapes into, as after approximately two nanoseconds in Reception class, your child will be covered HEAD TO TOE in indelible gold paint and four types of glitter. None of this will come out in the wash. The jumper they come home in won't even be theirs. Marvel, when on day three, they come home in someone else's pants. You literally could. not. teach. this level of swapsies.
2. School shoes
You'll probably buy them from the seventh circle of hell. Be sure to take out a second mortgage before going to the shop, and I'd advise taking at least four weeks' worth of provisions to keep you going while you wait to be measured. If you can take along at least one other child who is NOT due to receive four million pound shiny black shoes too, so much the better for this wholly enjoyable experience.
You will be buying a new pair in approximately, October.
3. Letters home
Be prepared to quite literally wallpaper your entire kitchen with the avalanche of tiny bits of paper your child will bring home each night. Each will be printed with a series of bafflingly complex tasks you'll be expected to complete before leaving the house each day, like: supply three empty milk cartons, bring in a box of frogs, sign your name in triplicate, or occasionally provide extremely rare items like printed photographs of your child and/or a Jesus costume (seasonal). For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT forget the one about non-uniform day like I did.
4. Fundraising Committee
You will be asked to join.
Just. Say. No.
Give them a wad of cash first, obviously, because it's for a good cause, but then run away, before you inadvertently 1. lose every Tuesday night for the rest of your life and 2. 'win' a box of clearly re-gifted Primark toiletries. Under no circumstances agree to 'help with the quiz night', unless you enjoy sweeping people like me off the floor of the village hall after having drunk all the bottles of Blue Nun which formed the basis of the prize fund. (True: this happened. I'm not proud.)
5. Little People
You send them through the door as your baby (all be it a baby in a very clean, large, jumper), they come out as their own little person. You will lose them, and find them all over again, changed. It is a joy and a privilege to watch the world open before their eyes; eyes which have only been on you since the day they were born, but which now drink in words, knowledge and all the colours of life like water through their thirsty roots.
Your child will grow up. They will sing songs you do not know, and teach you dances, rhymes and insults you have never heard. You will remember all over again all your hopes, fears and dreams from childhood past, and try to catch hold of each minute; to stem the flow of time and tide, which sweeps your baby up and into the big, wide world.
You can't hold on, for time always wins. But you can watch, with a tear in your eye as they troop through the door on that first morning, and be proud that you got them this far. The adventure is just beginning.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don't forget non-uniform day though.
Lindsay was selected as a BISS guest blogger after entering our June linky. For your chance to write for GoodtoKnow, check out our Because I Said So platform.