When you have children, your life becomes about firsts. First breath, first poo, first tooth, first steps…..the firsts seem to roll into one in that first year. So much so, you seem to take them for granted after a while and, do I dare to confess, miss a few in the allusive “baby book”. After a while the firsts become seconds and all of a sudden your tiny first born is dressing himself, brushing his own teeth, making his own breakfast and even, when convenient for him, helping mum with the household chores.
There is no doubt that the first day of school is one of the more significant events in our lives. I remember mine. But it was not about “best start” and parent orientations; in those days, I was put on a bus with my big brother as my mum waved us off. It was memorable nonetheless.
Hudsyn’s first day of school was 12 months in the making. Hudsyn could best be described as a “day care” child, with two professional busy and working parents, he was used to being away from the maternal boosem. As many of his little friends headed off to big school in 2013, Hudsyn’s interest in this “school” business began.
Lucky (or unlucky) for us, we drove past our “big school” every day. The countdown started in about March 2013. “How many sleeps until I go to big school mum?”; really? did I need to answer this question for the next 10 months?
It seemed Hudsyn was not the only one getting himself prepared. In around April I had a dinner with my mother’s group and it seemed I was way behind the eight ball. Most had names down at two or three schools, already met principles, submitted paperwork and ordered uniforms. Time to pull my finger out.
After some quick research, without knowing it, we had already made our decision three years before when we purchased our house. Schools were a big part of our decision making and we were happy with our local primary school – “a great school” confirmed by those in the know. I contacted the school and received the paperwork – the start of many forms to come. Here we go!
We were invited to our first of two parent orientations in October. I was super excited, his father not so. Clearly, my experiences at school were much more positive than his! Walking into the school library I was 10 again. Although being a different school, it looked the same. Those little chairs, artwork hanging and that smell of school books. It was surreal. The principal and teachers spoke with passion and committment about their school and its students. I felt very comfortable in this place my son would be spending his next seven years. I left the parent orientation with more than questions than I went in. How did this “nudie” no packet lunch thing really work? I know he starts at 9am, but how early should I drop him off? I understand the uniform and completed the order form, but what colour socks again? I was the person that was too scared to ask my questions, and with no close friends or family attending the school, I regretted that.
We learnt about “Best Start” when we had three child orientations in November. This is where the school works out exactly where your child is with their development, intellectually and socially. On speaking with others from other schools they all do it different. Most tend to do their Best Start assessment in the first week of school. Ours did theirs prior to them starting. I was not worried at all about Hudsyn. He could write his name and was not usually shy.
As the countdown continued, it became evident in the final months of 2013 that our boy was well and truly ready for school. Come the Christmas holidays and he was crawling up the walls. Ok, that was me. How does a trip to the movies turn into kicking and screaming, and I thought shopping for a school bag together would be “fun”.
Let’s talk about the accessories. Our school had sent us a list of things to get. I am still confused why we needed to supply paper towels, and the analyst in me questioned what size of tissues to get. A “box of tissues” was not enough description for me. Was it a family box, medium box, pocket size, or small size? I got all four and kept my fingers crossed. And did you know how many different types of lunch boxes there are? I got three. You can’t have too many lunch boxes!
I was given strict instructions by his father not to get a “baby” back pack. I was initially offended, but I saw his point given that when I had the chance I would err on the side of “cute” rather than what might be suitable for a five year old boy. Off the to the surf shop we went. We found a backpack within 30 seconds and Hudsyn picked a colour. “Are you sure you don’t want the blue one?” H: “No”. “Are you sure you don’t want to look at the others?” H: “No”. Why was I asking? School bag done and dusted in all of 5 minutes.
I was more prepared than I thought. I bought Hudsyn’s black Clarks shoes back in October for $39. I refuse to pay $149 for a pair of shoes that will last six months. But we all want the best, at least in that first year, so was I very happy with my bargain. Thankfully they were the perfect fit come January, so I will do the same this year for next year.
Come mid January we had everything we needed. His uniforms were labelled, washed and ironed, school bag packed, drink bottles in the freezer.
On the morning of Thursday 29 January 2014, Hudsyn appeared in our bedroom doorway. He was all dressed and looked like a school boy. Oh my! I did feel a tear build in my eye, that was quickly overcome by smiles. My boy was all grown up! He looked so handsome! Photos and movies ensued.
It was time. We walked as a family down to the school. Hudsyn ran in front of us. He was so excited! I was overwhelmed when we arrived. Parents and children everywhere and cute little children with backpacks and hats as big as them. It was so organised – we found our surname letter and waited in line. I scoped out the other backpacks, there were Lightning McQueen, monsters, Barbie, TMNT, oh no! Did I do the right thing? Self-doubt washed over me. Don’t mention the socks. Apparently there is a school sock. I hoped the Navy ones from Best and Less would be ok…maybe I should make a quick trip to Lowes. Had I failed? His father could not tell the difference – I was relieved!
We were given a name badge and found out our class , “KLF”, was this good? Another line and we were escorted to Hudsyn’s first classroom. We met our teacher, Miss Fletcher. She seemed confident and young and reminded me of my own Kindergarten teach, Miss Sleet. All of the names of the children were on the smart board (yes smart board, no more chalk boards these days!), there were 17. A nice small class. Hudsyn met his year 6 buddy, Daniel. Thank god for Daniel, he seemed to know what was going on, and seemed to know where to ask when there was confusion!
Miss Fletcher politely told all of the parents to leave, it was time. Kisses and hugs followed and we walked out of the classroom. Hudsyn didn’t take a second look, as he and his buddy found a corner to read a book. Almost everyone has asked me if I cried. The answer is no, I did not cry. For me, seeing my big boy so happy and excited, finally in a place he has been waiting for in 12 months does not bring tears, but the same happiness and smiles he has.
One week on as I write this story, I remember life is full of many of firsts. Today I watched Hudsyn ride a bike for the first time without training wheels. It is only just the beginning.
This journal is written by Summa (Husyn’s mother), with images captured by the shutter journal. Like, share and comment.