Our eldest has started ‘big school’ as she proudly calls it. To be honest we were dreading it – she is – and I mean this in the kindest possible way – socially awkward. She is the child that will blankly stare at you when you greet her even though you have known her since birth.
But, so far – so good. She bounds into school and has sworn that she will never be ‘on the grey cloud and definitely not the thunder cloud’ which I can only presume is the school equivalent of the naughty step. Every day she smugly announces those unfortunates that have been caught in the act and whose names have ended up on ‘the cloud’. I have mixed feelings about these announcements. On the one hand, I admire her vow to always be good but at the same time, this denouncing of her peers is, well, ever so slightly smug. Three words spring to mind – goody two shoes – and nobody likes a goody two shoes but I guess she is only four and she will learn.
One thing I had not prepared myself for was the playground ‘chat’. Drop off and pick up takes place in the playground and there is usually some hanging around whilst the doors open/close, inevitably this means some form of idle conversation.
Now, part of reaching the grand old age of 35 is that you know your strengths and weaknesses. I am sad to say, idle chatter is not one of my strengths – ask me anything about sworn enemies of Starfleet, warp speed and the Klingons and I could give you a sermon. But chat about the weather, where I’ve been on holiday and what’s for tea, my mind panics and I break out into a sweat.
I never quite know how to time idle chatter – do I jump in and run the risk of interrupting and come across as that shouty woman that never lets anyone finish their sentences or do I wait and then become known as mental mum who just stands and hovers, completely mute. It’s a game of strategy and one that sadly I haven’t yet mastered.
I know it’s really quite ridiculous – after all who cares? Whether I have anything to say or not isn’t going to alter the state of the universe. But it’s that old playground insecurity of being left out or being the odd one or even worse, the weird one that no one wants to stand next to, let alone speak to.
Looking around I also feel slightly inadequate, I mean so many of these mums have three children, all of which have been dressed, fed and some even have their hair beautifully plaited. This is a problem for me because when I got home from the school run (bear in mind I’d had a conversation with the teaching assistant and went on to see the doctor) I realised that I’d forgotten to put in my second earring. Had they been discreet studs it might not have mattered, but I like big, dangly ones and so it was probably pretty obvious I’d woken up and failed miserably to dress myself. I could pretend it was some grand fashion statement but looking at the rest of me, it’d be clear that it wasn’t. Great.
So our fears for our socially awkward eldest have evaporated only to be replaced by fears for her socially awkward mother…I always wondered where she got it from…