Well, not my house exactly, but close. It was the first day of school for three out of my four boys and anxiety levels were high. For a start, we all had to wake with a ‘6’ in the hours column, which was a far cry from the summer ‘9’ category.
Husband was finally in town and dutifully in the car with us by 7:30. We nearly arrived at school when one son announces he forgot his back pack full of his supply list of stationary. We wanted to scream at him with instant frustration that he is starting off his American school career in the same fashion he ended his English one, but it was the first day of school and one failed move by us would cause a storm. So, ignoring all instincts to flick him upside the head, husband headed home to save the day.
Meanwhile, I sat on my own watching my two younger boys find their way on this new playground. They both start at different times, so there is a lot of time to hang out. All the emotions were whirling around my heart and head at this point; will they make friends, will someone eat lunch with them, will they be okay?
Then the Head of Admissions approached who is completely lovely. I was busy taking photos when she stopped me and asked if we were all okay. I said yes, still busy with my camera, and she started to leave. With her was another new dad and she was taking him to see his son. Just as they walked away, I managed to turn in time to say my thanks when…there he was, the new dad just standing there, staring at me (or his son behind me)…D B. D B! D B goes to my school!!!!!!!! Or his son goes to my sons’ school, whatever!
Speechless, absolutely gobsmacked. Nothing came out – not a ‘hey’, ‘hi’, ‘what’s up’, nada. I even failed to do my norm which is to say something hideously awful like ‘my son plays football’ or something cheesy like that. Now, at this point my little one got kicked off the monkey bars by a bigger kid and was looking rather sad. I only noticed that because David sat down near him. I swear, all the maternal heart strings that were being played before got completely abandoned and in its place was a full body experience of total anxiety of how I was going to meet my footballer.
I stared, approached, then backed down. Too embarrassing. And yet, I’ve been desperately looking for my English side to shine here, and who better to make me feel connected than this man in front of me?? It’s synchronicity, karma, 6 degrees of separation working to make my life feel like a circle rather than two parallel lines.
Then just like that, my English footballer left. Bereft of my chance to become soulmates, I sat alone, staring at monkey bars. Then husband arrived. Husband looked at me concerned. “Don’t worry,” he said. “The boys will be fine. Your face is so red, are you going to cry?”
We then went into a new parent’s meeting – no DB there – and met with all the Heads of school. This was probably the first time husband has attended one of these things as he was interested in the curriculum here. The man next to us took out a notebook and pen and for the first time I thought this school atmosphere is getting more serious. But after an hour and a half, seriously, 90 minutes, of talking about carpool, feelings and food allergies, then back to carpool, we started to squirm. Is anyone going to discuss what they are going to learn? I realize my boys will feel safe, loved and cuddled, but who is going to whip them when they are late, lazy or out of order? How English have I become???
In London, I cannot remember one time listening to the Head discuss anything other than the curriculum and their expectations of our sons, and adding that to husband’s stories of literally being caned and knuckled by his Head, this seemed like we joined a support group for needy parents and kids. We finally left, watching the man next to us fill up his page with notes about carpool timings – which I’ll just say now is a military operation regarding where and when you line up your car with your child’s name on a sign in your windshield and they walkie/talkie each other to get your kid delivered to your door!
Needless to say, the next day we failed our course in carpool and forgot it was early dismissal and left one child for an hour in the hands of his teacher. Cringe-worthy. Crap parents. Bad first impression. We should have taken notes.