In June, we visited our local country school. The school that will take Little Miss from junior infants at a tender age of four years eleven months all the way up to an inconceivable eleven years old and an added seven months. What kind of little girl will she be at the end of this journey? How tall will she be? Will she even sound the same as the baby voice swiftly disappears into the memories I play back in my head? How excited will she be? What new friends will she make? What plans will start forming in her head for what she wants to be when she gets older?
In July, I spent the month prepping an excited Little Miss on getting ready for big school. We bought the shoes at a bargain price in Aldi. Two pairs because I’m afraid one pair will be eaten by the chickens or land precariously in the middle of the garden pond someday. I hummed and hawed about forking out the extra for a navy pinafore in Dunnes rather than Lidl. I’m not a cheapskate but Lord the costs involved with school are mega bucks! So, I saved a couple of euro on a size too big, navy skirt (because Little Miss recoiled at the pinafore) with the matching cardigan and a jumper, because a girl has to have choices. I lost a few pairs of knee high socks to the mystery of the sock drawer already and have a few pairs of the thick wooly navy tights ready to go for the cold winter mornings which I’m already dreading. Her oversized school tracksuit swims heavily around the wrists and ankles and falls off the shoulders. The bright blue blouse and navy tie are exciting additions to her wardrobe since Papa Bear wears shirts too! All that’s left is for Momma Bear to don a needle and thread and sew the schools crest to my daughter’s chest. Not literally, obviously, but she has eight years of real life ahead of her. Learning about the world and her place in it.
We bought the school bag in Smiggle because I couldn’t face walking around another shop for school supplies and she darted over to the first purple and green bag she saw. “Feck it,” I said, not even reading the price tag and instantly regretting it as Little Miss added a collapsable beaker to the bill (pretty nifty beaker though. I was well impressed… and floored by the price tag again.) A pencil case was purchased in Eason along with some school books and the insisted upon plastic covering. The rest wwre ordered on schoolbooks.ie because I couldn’t be arsed to go back to Eason when they could be delivered to me. Regardless, I had to go back to Eason anyway because I forgot to click the plastic covering option. Back in my day, we spent a whole day covering our books and copies with old maps which I would trace over when lessons got boring or took a road trip to a weary looking lake when my imagination overpowered the conscientious and obedient student I should have been.
I was gifted some oh so nifty MyNametags (€16.95 for 5p sticker labels FYI) which has saved Momma Bear the painful task of labelling everything from the rain coat to the shoes to the pencils in her pencil case. It took me weeks (ahem months) to order them because “to do lists” have been my enemy with anxiety. But had I known that it would take a measly one minute to design and order these beauties, I wouldn’t have procrasintated.
“What are these stickers?” Little Miss asked when I took them out of the envelope. All purple and flowery because purple (and pink and green and blue and red and yellow…) is her favourite colour with her name emblazoned with massive lettering. “Oooo cool,” she says when I explain how Momma Bears makeshift labels from an old stash of computer levels found in the back of the press just won’t cut it at big school. Oh no, these babies are dishwasher and microwave proof. Computer labels, are not.
And so, she’s ready.
We ask her if she has any questions, worries or thoughts as the holidays have mere weeks left and big school is just around the corner. “No,” she says, “but can we walk to school?”
“Of course,” I say, relieved and happy that she has no concerns (just yet) and that she’s ready for this big adventure. And instantly remembering as I promise we’d walk to school on bright mornings, that I have forgetten that the walk home will be twenty minutes uphill with a buggy as she settles into Junior Infants.