I am not sure who was most nervous, me or the kids.
It seemed very odd picking out their “school” clothes, just can’t really get my head around the no uniform thing. I personally like uniforms – I believe it puts everyone on an even playing field. And I don’t like having to choose what they are going to wear every day. I am an indecisive dresser myself (okay, my indecisiveness isn’t just limited to clothes) and I feel just as undecided about what my kids should wear, especially when I am not really sure what Swedish kids wear to school.
H was no help. But then, he thinks the all black, scruffy, I don’t-give-a-bugger look is in. I don’t know what they wear, either, he said. Really? And here’s me thinking that he was Swedish and I am pretty sure he went to school. Okay, then I said, they can just wear some (nice) jogging bottoms. Oh, no, he said. Absolutely not! H has a thing about tracksuits and jogging bottoms. He thinks wearing them makes you look like a chav. One lazy Sunday afternoon, I saw him change out of his jogging bottoms into his jeans just to get something out of the car. Now that’s dedication to the non-jogging bottoms wearers’ brigade, if ever I saw it.
So, jogging bottoms out, what then? Thankfully, it is warm here and I was able to settle for jean shorts and nice tops. Then I spent just as long worrying about what shoes they should wear. Settled for canvas shoes and then worried some more about whether they should wear socks or not. See the pattern? It’s tiring being in my head, believe me.
And I am pleased to say that they blended in very nicely (as if they wouldn’t – they have come from England, not Outer Mongolia).
So, my kids have been looking forward to school for ages. My littlest guy was so excited he could hardly sleep last night and my eldest seemed quite keen but at the same time a little anxious. I was anticipating some trouble from the eldest (refusing to go in or speak to people), but the trouble actually came from my little, normally social butterfly. He sat down on the mat without any problem at all (found his own name without being prompted). He looked at his peers as they joined him on the mat, with curiosity, I might add and not fear. He started to show signs of being uncomfortable when the teacher asked them all to say their name and their favourite animal. He kept looking at me with growing horror, terror flooding his eyes, silently willing me to get him out of there. Every time he looked at me, I nodded my head in support and gave him the thumbs up.
After a while, the teacher said it was time for the parents to leave. He moved off the mat as though his bum was on fire and launched himself at my legs, holding on with a vice-like grip. Mummy, he said, I am scared. Watching tears run down his little face just about broke my heart. I wanted to pick him up, run out of there, telling him everything was okay and he didn’t have to go. Yet, I did what I knew I had to do – I told him he was okay, that he was doing so very well, but that he needed to stay with the teacher. Then I handed him over and left (okay, just outside for 10 minutes while they gave us some info, but he didn’t know that).
I wondered what he thought. What he thought about me. I know that in his little 6-year-old mind, he realises he has to go to school, but as a mum, it’s my job (one that I do pretty dang good normally) to take away their pain and fear. It was the fact that he said he was scared, rather than just didn’t want to go, that got to me.
When I went back in, his teacher said that he’d sat on her lap the whole time. The whole class came out to play a game, but he point-blank refused. He told me very loudly that it was a babyish game and didn’t want to play, so I didn’t make him. He bravely said that he will go back to school, but next week. Sadly, little laddie, it will be a little sooner than that.
Other than the above, the experience was not too bad at all. I hate meeting new people, especially en-masse, even more difficult when they speak a different language to you. Thankfully, one of the mums started speaking to me in English (she must have heard me with the littlest one) and she was really nice, so open and so very un-Swedish! Turns out she had lived in the US and the UK and both of her children were with different fathers (one from Sri Lanka, one from Nigeria). I am not telling the world this because I am judging her (or even care), but because her lifestyle had obviously made her a little more relaxed (open?) than the average Swede I have encountered. She said herself that she hadn’t fitted in when younger because she was (and felt) so very different. We talked for quite a while and found we had a lot in common. She also picks her kids up from school. I liked her.
Later on, another person talked to me. I must have had my oh-so-approachable face on this morning. She also heard me talking to the littlest one in English and asked, in Swedish, if we were a bi-lingual family. Turns out hers is too. English is also her childrens’ first language. Small world.
So, all in all, a good day. The sun is shining (it’s been red hot), my kids have nipped to their grandparents and the only sound I can hear is the trickling of the water feature outside. Although a difficult day in some respects, it also feels less stressed, like we are settling in. It feels good.