Xavier finished his first year at school last week. On his last day of term I had a moment of reflection, (it literally was a moment as I was working on a deadline but that’s another story), and couldn’t quite believe that we had survived a whole school year.
Actually, Xavier had done OK, and I had barely survived.
Xavier starting school was horrendous for me, if I’m totally honest. There was no way I could describe myself as a level headed mum anymore (even if I could in the first place).
But the neurosis was extreme. I was terrified. Whereas my son seemed oblivious to this momentous occasion, his mother was a wreck who could barely put one foot in front to the other.
I guess it didn’t help that it took me ages to pick a school for Xavier. I had been told by the professionals who surrounded Xavier that he would be going to Mainstream school, which was great but to me that meant I had to find a school that suited my son. And Borstal wasn’t an option at the time.
Joking aside, I have always tried to trust my instinct with Xavier and we obviously are subject to evaluations so whereas I believed Mainstream school would be best for him, I just didn’t feel that he was ready to start reception when he was due to. This was largely due to his speech delay (we have tried everything but he still doesn’t really want to speak unless he has to), and his behaviour, (never been very keen to follow rules).
However, the law disagreed with me.
And apart from the practical, there was also the sentimental mummy bit about my baby growing up so basically the idea of Xavier starting school made me want to dive under my duvet with a bottle of gin and drink my way through the nightmare. I didn’t by the way.
On his first day of school, I dropped him off, feeling as if I was giving my child to the child catcher. I didn’t cry but I felt sick. My poor long-suffering mother spent the day with me as I tried to kill the time until I could pick him up.
When we were reunited, he was the same little boy I’d dropped off. He was smiling. He was tired. He was wearing his lunch on his new school uniform.
He was gorgeous and I was so relieved that we had got through that particular milestone. the only thing was that I had to take him back the next day and the next…
If Xavier didn’t have Down’s Syndrome would I have felt the same? I can’t answer that but I believe its a natural parenting issue. Despite the fact that Xavier had always gone to nursery, this felt different. It was as if I was saying that it was time for him to make his way in the world; as if I was sending up Chimneys rather than to a very nice little school. And whereas I felt as if Xavier wasn’t quite ready, I knew that I certainly wasn’t.
My baby was growing up far too fast. He was now a boy. A boy in a school uniform who was going to learn to read and write and get told off.
And I am now the mum of a schoolboy. And I’m not sure I will ever be ready for that.