What you actually need when your first child starts school

When you enrol your first child in school, you attend the information sessions, negotiate the mystery of the school uniform shop (do I buy the big bag or the small one?  How many pairs of trousers?) and just generally feel stressed and confused.

However, here's what I think you actually need when your child starts school:

1.  A big box of envelopes and a big bag of change.  Every second day there is a note that needs handing in usually with a small amount of money included.

2.  An electronic organiser of some kind which beeps to tell you what day Library/Sport/Folk Dancing/Animal Husbandry is on and what equipment your child (LOL - my apologies - that would actually be you, since you're the one who gets into trouble when they don't bring the right stuff) needs to take.

3.  Ten hats - they lose one about once a week.  Remember:  'No hat, No play' actually means sitting in a shed, in the shade, feeling like a social outcast at lunch and then your child will of course blame you at the end of the day for the lost hat, so this a preventative measure for your own sanity.

4.  Ten jumpers - they will lose one every day - usually about recess when they run around.

5.  The book titled "How I survived the infants' school playground:  For grown-ups" by Mum Popular (soon to be released).

6.  A shoe-box - there will always be a project for the parents (sorry, the child) in Kindy involving a shoe-box.

7.  A VERY big crate of nit solution - if you've managed to escape lice through the early years, they are part of the 'joyous' initiation into this next stage of education (this may be a uniquely Sydney joy - humidity etc?).  On a side note, I am thinking of buying shares in one of these companies.

8.  Box of tissues.  Many tears will be shed.  And they won't be the tears you shed as you farewell your little chickadee off for their first day.  It will be their tears as they throw a tantrum on the way home about you saying no to a playdate (they will ask for one every afternoon) or just because you innocently rocked up to school pick up and said 'hello' to them or because they don't want to do the homework (which is fair enough because the teacher only gave out homework to appease the strange 'we love homework' crowd of parents).

9.  A bucket load of patience for those very painful first readers.  Exciting for about two weeks and then it  j u s t  k e e p s  o n  g o i n g.  BTW here's a tip:  say, just in theory of course, you find yourself screaming at your child,  "It says 'the', it says 'the', it's in every sentence" - it might be time for Daddy to take over.

10.  A satellite-linked spycam set-up incorporated into your child's school hat so you can know for sure what, "I had no-one to play with at lunch and I hate school" actually means.  Is it "I was on my own for 10 seconds when my friend was in the toilet" or "I lost my friends because they said they were going to the library, and I don't know where the library is" or "I truly do not have a friend and you really should talk to my teacher".

And now I'm about to face the newness all over again with high school starting next year - isn't it just a set of keys, a mobile phone and whole lot of money?!  I'll see ...


Fiona McLean said…
Jenny, Thanks for this. I laughed and laughed, and it brought some much-needed brightness into a day with two sick kids at home, too many things on, and the temptation to get little things out of perspective. I especially resonated with the issues with early readers and your #8 and #10. Thankfully, at our school, we avoid lots of the fiddly envelopes-and-change drama by paying an excursion levy up-front which covers the whole year - but there are still gold coin donations for various free-dress days, presents for volunteers, etc.

Fiona McLean
Naomi said…
I love this post! Thanks Jenny :)
ELF said…
Great post, Jenny! Having had my first start school this year, this is such a useful list! Number 7 is particularly appropriate - we managed to escape nits for all of preschool. Nath brought them home about a month ago, Rach and I caught them too. They are a NIGHTMARE. I saw the other day there is a salon at Parramatta that gets rid of them for you. I was almost tempted. I was also almost tempted to shave all our heads ;)
Motherhugger said…
I absolutely agree, Jenny.

Recommended gift for parents (or even for children): Vouchers for nit removal services. They'd have gift vouchers, wouldn't they?
Anonymous said…
Loved your post. I have 4 children at lots of different stages (Yr 1 - Yr 9) and can relate to the different stages.

On a side note, we have been through the lice stage (it seems to have been better lately!!) and found that the conditioner treatment (lots of info on Google) is very efficient and much cheaper without the chemicals. The main issue is getting rid of the eggs so regular combing for a week or so makes all the difference. Having two girls with long hair, I let them choose a movie to watch while I combed.

I have just recently found your blog and am enjoying reading about some of the stages I have been through and decisions I still face through your eyes! Thanks, Jenny
Richard said…
Many great insights there Jenny from someone who clearly has been there and done it several times :)
Sarah said…
I was laughing so much, Pete wanted to know what was going on. He said, "For such an introvert, she's really very funny!"

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