The lovely weather this week seems to have brought everyone out of hibernation, the play park has been heaving after school gets out and it’s been wonderful to see all the children running together. And we’ve bumped into the friends we made in the bleakest coldest days of the winter when we were the only two mums there, our four girls playing together as we chatted and let the children run off some of the cabin fever. We would stay right until it really did get too dark to play any more, lamenting the early nights and it’s been so lovely to meet up again in the sunshine.
Our chats over the winter often came around to the school places; our biggest girls were born two days apart, get on like a house on fire, are similarly tall, and we hoped and hoped and hoped that they would be at school together come the autumn. And happily for all of us they are, which brings the total number of other children that Kitty will know when they start at school right up to two.
My friend of the winter introduced me to a couple of other preschool mums who had given way to the after school pleading for a trip to the playpark and we chatted about the children (whose names I know, even if I might struggle to pick the exact child out of a line up), and got all the inside information we could from the one Mum of the four of us who won’t be doing this for the first time.
It reminded me so much of being at school myself, when the prefects monitored the junior years, answered their questions and tried to help them be in the right place at the right time. And the analogy seems apt because come September most of us will be the new mums at the school gates, the ones looking a little shy, a little nervous perhaps, trying to find our way in a crowded sea of other mums who all know exactly what they’re doing, the ones with the children in a shiny slightly too large uniform. Through life your big chances to make friends are at school, and then at university, then work, and then when your eldest child is born (often through the wonderful friend speed dating service that is the NCT). And then it’s at the school gate.
And as much as I want Kitty to make friend and be happy and settled in her school life, I really hope that I make good friends too; so that when our assorted offspring want to play together it’s not a problem, we can work it out, or just both sit back and chat easily together.
Assuming that none of us move, this is the start of the band of mothers that will be together for at least the next seven years as our children work their way through the primary school. They are the mums that I will recognise to say hi to in the street, the ones I’ll stop and chat to at the park and I hope that somewhere in there are the ones that will become firm friends.
By next summer, this will all be normal. We’ll meet at the gate, get the children and head to the park together to let them burn off some steam, or at least I really hope that’s a daydream that will be coming true, but for now I’ll admit it feels a little daunting. I haven’t been the new girl since I was four; I stayed in the same primary school until the sixth form and when we transferred over to the secondary school, the 16 of my class of 18 that went, made up the majority of the new first form and because it was a connected school we all knew our way around anyway. I don’t really know what it will feel like on that first day but I suspect Kitty won’t be the only one with a few butterflies in her stomach.
And until that day comes we have the summer, long days and sunny afternoons up at the park, and I very much hope that by the time that first morning comes, I’ll have some familiar faces to look out for too.