All You Need to Know Before You Start School

All you need to know before you start school.jpg

In preparation for next month, we bought this book for Spiderboy, it’s a lovely book and has a section on how to dress yourself, what to remember to do when you’ve been to the toilet, shapes, colours, numbers, letters etc.

I don’t want to boast too much (actually I do), but Spiderboy knows it all. He can write and read basic words. He is intellectually bright, and he is physically very capable.

But he’s not ready for September. And it got me thinking, what does he need to know before he starts school? If I could write my own version, it would go something like this:

  1. You are loved. Unconditionally. I will always be thinking of you when you’re at school. I will always be loving you, and missing you. And I will always be there to collect you after.
  2. You are special. You are clever and kind and talented. But none of that matters because what makes you most special is that you are mine. And so whatever you do at school, you will always be the most important, most special boy to me.
  3. You are safe. Because of number 1 and number 2, I would never leave you somewhere that you weren’t safe. Your teachers do not want to hurt you, they don’t want to take you away. I trust them, so you can too.
  4. You are strong. The world has not been kind to you. Maybe no one else in your class will be able to understand this. But you know that life isn’t fair. And you are a stronger, braver person because of that.

The other children in Spiderboy’s class may not be able to fasten buttons, or write their names, but I’m pretty sure they won’t have trouble with the above. But for my beautiful boy, these things do not come naturally. Early life experiences have taught him quite the opposite. And yet, in two weeks he goes, ready or not.

If I could only help him start to believe these things before then, none of the other stuff matters. He may look to be at an advantage to the other children in his class. But buttons and letters are much easier to learn than trust and a sense of self worth.

A little lesson from last week

6749689975_6c43852f0a_oAs with all things, my reasons for wanting to be a mum were mixed. One that I might not have admitted before the boys arrived was the desire to feel loved, needed and special to somebody.

The constant demands of a 3 and 4 year old mean I feel needed most of the time. As for loved and special that can come and go! For the most part our boys are very cuddly and loving. One night Spiderboy told me “Mummy you’re beautiful, I want to marry you.” But there are also times when nothing I do is right, “I didn’t want you to get married/stand there/speak/touch that/move my drink/cut my toast” are fairly regular complaints.

The more we get to know our boys, the more of their hurt and pain we understand. And the more I realise that being a Mummy isn’t about being loved or special. It’s about making sure my boys are loved and special.

And so last week when Spiderboy ran out of the kitchen and screamed “I don’t love you anymore,” my first reaction was to want to remind him why he should love me – I wash his clothes, cook his tea, wipe his bottom. I wanted him to know that it upset me and it wasn’t kind. But for a moment I paused. And then my instincts kicked in and I did what I needed to do. I went to him gently and told him that I would always love him. I held him close until the fear and anger that had overwhelmed him began to subside. I wished that somehow all the pain inside him could somehow be inside me instead.

Because being Mummy to my two boys means that suddenly how I’m feeling doesn’t matter. I am needed, yes, and putting aside my own feelings each day to meet those needs is what makes me special to these extra special boys. And when they rage and scream and tell me that they don’t love me, I know that is only because they do that they feel safe enough to show me how they feel.

I suppose what I’m saying is that the biggest rewards of being a Mummy isn’t being cuddled or kissed and the way that makes me feel; it’s helping my boys slowly overcome their anxiety and pain and learn to manage their own Big Feelings. It’s knowing that they feel loved, safe and special.

IMAGE: Stephan Hochhaus (2012)