Blogger Adam Lanigan contemplates life juggling pick-ups and drop-offs when your first-born starts formal education.
It was a nervous wait on the Tuesday after Easter. Three months after submitting the application, the last few days of which with increasing agony, we finally received the news our son had got into our first-choice primary school. It was a mixture of joy and relief as the news sank in. I think I had convinced myself that we would not get a place as we were on the outskirts of the catchment area and of course it would be oversubscribed. So I could not quite believe the email revealed we had actually been successful.
Now, after the initial elation, it was not too long until the realities started to kick-in. Who will do drop-offs? Who will do pick-ups? What about holidays? Can we walk to school and nursery? What about after-school? How many days can we afford to do that?
That evening coincided with a rare evening out for dinner for my wife and I. Almost the entire two hours we were sat at the table was spent trying to figure out how our lives would look from September onwards. Little did I realise that having a child at school was going to require outstanding logistical and organisational skills on mine and my wife’s part just to complete one week, let alone the next 15 years! When I quickly tried to scribble down how a particular month might look, my brain was more frazzled than if I had been revising for an exam.
Now the easy thing would be to think, we currently have children at nursery, so why does going to school feel so much harder? Well, the simple word is control. We control when our children go to nursery and within reason what time they finish. Nursery doesn’t fine us if we arrive after a certain time because someone can’t find their gloves or goes to hide under the bed at the exact moment that it’s time to put coats on. While due to my freelance career, if I receive work at different times of the day, I can choose pick-ups and drop-offs to fit the requirements. From September, that might become impossible.
But in this new relationship, school has all the control. It sets the agenda and it is going to be a shock for all four of us. The clock will be ticking from the moment we get up until our son is through the school door. Meanwhile, we now have the added issue of nursery being in the opposite direction, so it will literally feel like we are being pulled all over the place by our children before we can even begin to start our own day.
With each passing day, I can see my four-year-old is more and more ready for school and is ready to transition from the nursery environment, doing things like recognising all the letters of the alphabet and writing his name in a birthday card. But while he is excited about what lies in store, I have come to realise on my part, there is a slight fear. I even counted down the number of Wednesdays (Daddy Day in our house) that we have left together. There will be less time at home with him and before you know it, parties and activities will dominate weekends and the evenings after school. The various restrictions of Covid over the last two years have meant I’ve spent much more time with my family than anyone would have expected. My son has been a companion for me around the house or on holiday. So even if he is ready to embrace the biggest chapter of his young life, maybe his dad is not quite ready for the next step on the parenting journey, regardless of all the logistics involved.