Friday, 1 April 2016

Where I Did Not Know and possibly Got It Wrong


There’s no shortage of sticks and the opportunity to beat yourself with them in parenthood.  It’s a minefield.  Maybe it gets easier with subsequent children, but for firsts or onlys, every day has got the potential for you to do something wrong.  Doing stuff wrong is an alien concept for me.  I’m a planner, a thinker, a reviser.  I treated pregnancy like I did my academic qualifications; reading, research, planning.  I didn’t go into it half-baked, and much of the research was focussed on how to get a girl.  Grapes and strawberries, apparently. Copious bowls of Frosties and eggs (not together, I’m not an animal) were also part of my diet, but I was well pregnant by then so imagine they didn’t have any impact on the pink or blue issue.  I wanted a girl, and was willing to take a bit of dubious advice.  I’m no scientist, who am I to argue?  Anyway, I Got It Right.  Early babyhood was approached similarly, and really, there’s not that much to get wrong.

So, from right to wrong.  Daughter is nearly eight and I’ve no experience with eight year olds.  There are no books now.  The holy grail of Mumsnet generally confirms I’ve Got It Wrong, but who’s to say.  It’s the not knowing what to do I don’t like.  I’m not one of these intuitive wear-your-baby-in-an-aztec-print-blanket type of mothers (although admittedly I think she would be a bit heavy for that now).  I’m not a follow-her-lead type (her lead would be to Wetherspoons for ham, egg and chips followed by a supermarket sweep style jaunt to Smyths).  I want to know what to do in advance.  I want to get it right first time.  I’m not comfortable with making mistakes.

Once they go to school, keep your stick handy.  The dropper-offers and picker-uppers may be able to keep it somewhere a teeny bit further, as they might have a bit more opportunity to Find Stuff Out, but I suspect it still needs to be accessible.  I’m so seldom at the school gates that Teacher asked me who I was there for last time I picked her up.  Practically on first-name terms with Nanny though.  So I read all the letters, ask the questions, but generally still have no clue what goes on.  The very latest stick beating happened with a Children’s University Graduation.  I remember the passport coming home.  I remember…well nothing else.  I didn’t return the form as I knew Daughter had a princely two stamps in her passport (which was securely stored in a location I remembered, so yay me).  On the day, about 4 children in the class didn’t go, one of whom was Daughter.  She was pretty casual about it and scoffed at the prospect of a graduation in primary school, but I was beside myself (whilst also scoffing at the prospect of a graduation in primary school).  What worried me was the possibility that she could have gone only for my devil-may-care letter chucking.  What troubled me was that I Didn’t Know.  How did everyone know about this and understand it?  Where had they got their stamps?  Why didn’t Daughter have them? What if she doesn’t graduate?  Does she need to to get into a good high school?  Is Oxbridge out of the question? Why was I so rubbish?  So of course the rest of the day was written off to forensic investigation of where she could get them, how many she might have, what was recorded at school centrally and what I’d failed to do for her.  I harangued the Drama club (participates, hooray), pestered the Dance teacher (thinking about it, thanks!) and the swimming club (no response, get your act together).  There was me thinking these were nice activities for her to do, when all the while they may have had stamp value!  The next family day out is planned according to the list of places that participate.  We’ve already been to loads on the list, but like a bad parent I concentrated on us having a nice family day and let the stamps go to waste!  If only I’d known.  Why didn’t I know?!!!!  So of course I’m black and blue with stick beating.  I might even need a new stick, but I’ll have to keep hold of this one for now because you can’t be without one.  I do know that she’s off for a fortnight now though, and I do know who is looking after her on the days that I can’t.  And I do know that I’ll be sending her Children’s University passport…