‘Into The Lion’s Den’ : Darlek’s First Day at School
We’re about mid way through the school hols now, in a few weeks both my kids will be starting new school years with new teachers. I was thinking about this the other day, I never actually wrote about Darlek’s first day at school. So here goes, another for the memory box. This focuses on the fabulous fluffy coat that she wore on her first day, for reasons I shall mention later.
I’ve bought her many odds and ends of clothes over the years, some more memorable than others. I remember she loved a green woolen cardigan that had bobbles of wool all over it, in different colours like huge wooly smarties. Once I found her trying to chew one of them off. My particular favourite was a fluffy, shaggy black and white coat, that made her look a little bit like a sheep – a very cute mini sheep. I actually found it in a charity shop and it said it was aged 7-8, but it was tiny so it fitted her really well despite her only being only 5 at the time. That was the coat she wore on her first day walking to school. I wish I’d kept it now, I think it has probably returned from whence it came.
Time does funny things, I can’t remember getting her dressed in the morning for her first day at school. I can’t remember what she had for breakfast or whether she was particularly nervous – I’m presuming she was though. Sounds awful doesn’t it. I think memories summarise themselves automatically to save space in our brains. Or maybe I’ve just got a really small brain and I can’t fit much in so I’ve turned the entire morning into a snapshot picture in my head…..because I really can’t remember much apart from this:
My daughter walking beside me, sometimes breaking into a skip. Holding my hand tightly. Bright patent black school shoes clacking on the pavement, grey trousers very slightly too long. ‘Better too long than too short’ I probably reminded myself at the time. It was a grey day, as is often the case in ‘It’s Grim Up North’ parts of England. She’s smiling, a huge beamer of a grin, full of repressed excitement and nerves. Fluffy coat ruffling in the wind. She looks so grown up. I am so, so very proud of her.
I’ll be honest, I hated school. The work was ok, in fact I loved a lot of it, apart from the bits where I had to do stuff with numbers. Numbers hated me, they still do. What I really struggled with though were the complexities of friendships, who was best friends with who, why was someone not talking to me or someone else, what could I do to fit in, did I look ok? Just the usual insecurities I suppose, but I still hated it more than most I think. As we walked to school these memories came back to me, and I wished for more for her. I wished her happiness and the school days that everyone else seems to go on about. ‘They’re the best days of your life!’ people often say. I say ‘Jackson Pollocks’ to that, or words to that effect. I really wanted, and still want, school life to be different for her.
Because of this, I was very nervous about taking her in and about what lay in store for her. Funnily enough, when I walked Darlek through those big iron school gates on that first day, the phrase that went through my mind was ‘Into the Lion’s Den….’ Now I think back, it seems so very ironic that I had her dressed in her fluffy coat looking like a cute sheep. Lions eat sheep don’t they? Perhaps I should have dressed her in something a little less edible looking.
With this in mind, I’m pleased to report that the school hasn’t actually eaten her alive and that she’s doing really well. I’m relieved that my worries appear to have been unfounded. It seems that my daughter, in the nicest possible way, turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is a phrase that is often used negatively, but in this case I see it as a positive. She’s got a bit of bite about her, she throws herself into her work, is passionate about her friendships, wants to be involved in everything and bounds around like a mad thing most of the time.
As time sneaks onward, it won’t be long until she’s going to high school. I just know I’ll feel exactly the same. This time I won’t be dressing her as a cute sheep…..