Despite the nerves, despite the full-body-shell-shock of a 7.15am wake-up alarm, we survived. Flea is now a fully-fledged secondary school girl.
It’s been a really big change, for both of us. And some things took us by surprise. Namely:
Kids Make Friends Faster Than You
Flea came home the first day complaining I’d not given her money for break time (guilty). “But I just sat with some friends because they didn’t have money either,” Flea said, airily.
What? Friends? Already?
Apparently, Flea made five on the first day. And two more the day after that. I think I’ve made two new friends in the past year. #Loser
Secondary School is BIG
On the first day, I realised I didn’t know where to collect Flea. So I went in to the office to ask, then headed off to the back gate.
I waited until 4.10pm but Flea didn’t appear. So I went to the front. While I was walking there, Flea was walking from the front to the back. Then I walked to the side, as Flea walked back to the front. Eventually Flea went into the school office and they called my mobile. We met outside the front lobby at 4.30pm. We didn’t necessarily think through “pick up plans” in advance.
But Big isn’t all bad
I think often we put our fears onto kids. I assumed a (comparatively) big school would worry Flea, in case she got lost. But actually Flea enjoys the bigness of her school.
She says it’s like having a great new place to explore, and each day she sees something new (“Like Hogwarts!”) After eight years in one primary school, it turns out ‘big’ is exciting.
Other things adults might not expect to be thrilling are actually SUPER exciting when you’re 11. “I’ve got a text book that someone else has owned!” said Flea, after her first day. “And I can get a bacon sandwich at break.”
These are genuine highlights to my child.
Independence takes Practice
At secondary school, Flea’s going to be expected to manage her own belongings, remember her own kit, plan her own homework.
In week one, Flea managed to forget her phone on the first day, forget to top it up on the second day, forgot it (again) on the third day, and still hadn’t topped it up by the fourth day.
And don’t get me started on PE kit.
They aren’t Ready for it ALL Right Away
While Flea is thrilled to be in secondary school, she still wants a bit of hand-holding.
For the first week, I drove her into school and she was picked up, either by myself, her Dad, or her grandparents. The first day, I walked her to the front door. The second day, I walked her down the path. The third day, to the gate. By day four, I was able to stay in the car. Which was lucky, really, because I’d spilled Pot Noodle down my shirt the night before, and hadn’t noticed. I know. Classy.
A little preliminary hand-holding is good. But your Dad standing in the middle of the school front lawn, waving both hands above his head and shouting, “Flea!!! Have you GOT YOUR BAG?” is never anything other than horrifying.
Overall, I’m calling this week a success. The school has done a great job of helping the new children settle in quickly, and Flea seems to be really happy. I’m not sure what more I could ask for.
It was a good week.