This week all around the country, parents are sighing with relief that school is back.
There will be tears, outfit dilemmas, drama over whether the cool crowd will speak to you, and the lunchbox battle. These days the latter can apply as much to the parents as the student.
My daughter is starting school today. She woke up on the weekend and declared she was desperate to go to school because she really wanted to learn something. Anything it seemed would do for the sponge that is her brain, so we did some spelling for a nanosecond. The attention spans of Mum and Dad were shorter than hers.
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With her having been at preschool for a number of years, I'm no stranger to packing the lunchbox, dropping off and picking up, navigating parent committees, and the like. All of these things I don't give much time thinking about, yet over the past week I've been reading about the horrors of being a Mum to a school-aged child.
I hope I won't be shamed for the contents of her lunchbox. We have a good thing going: Vegemite and avocado sandwich on brown bread, one fruit, one vegetable, some crackers or similar and something else relatively wholesome, which depends on what we have on hand. Of course, no nuts and I try not to pack any junk because I find it's just easier not to.
I start this year forewarned and forearmed, ready to fight back if someone dares to shame me for not including packages of junk in her lunchbox. Yes, you read that right. A few years back it was schools sending notes home about a contraband homemade muffin or slice of leftover birthday cake in the lunchbox. Now it's mad women harassing other parents at pick up, saying they should be like other "normal" parents and include multiple packets for lunch. I worry that as with all occasions when I have the best retort at the ready, I won't get a chance to use it.
There has been a plethora of posts on my Instagram feed with pick up and drop off outfit inspiration. Stylists and bloggers are giving us ideas for what to wear so we can be stylish yet able to get down on our haunches at any minute to tie a shoelace. There are even separate pick up and drop off options, in case we get dressed in the morning and then decide we must change for the afternoon. I will admit I have done this, however mine has been more drop off in regular clothes and pick up in sweaty active wear or vice versa, having usually gotten changed in my car to squeeze in a quick stair climb or run.
I'll share my school style mantra with you. It is simple, effective, yet in contrast to a swathe of New Zealand's population. If you wear them to bed, don't wear them to school.
It appears that school is still a breeding ground for insecurities, although instead of being limited to our children, it's now subverting us parents. As parents we should be the first port of call that our children look to as examples of secure and emotionally intelligent beings.
How can we preach all that affirming stuff to our kids if we are worrying about who will speak to us at pick up or whether we will be judged for what we are wearing, driving or doing? Trust in yourself and in what you're doing and be the best example for your kids this school year.