The lesson I learnt on my kid’s first day at school

First days: Term two will have new lessons for us both.
First days: Term two will have new lessons for us both. Photo: Getty

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The excitement in the house that morning was palpable. My five-year-old daughter G rushed about in a frenzy. You would have been forgiven for thinking she was off to Disney Land rather than school.

But while she was jubilant I was emotional. My little girl was growing up before my eyes. One moment she was a fuzzy mix of bed head and pyjamas, snuggling up for a morning "hugle" and the next, in uniform, transformed into a big girl.

I kept myself busy, preparing her first ever lunch box (which was full of healthy home-baked food that she later binned in favour of the vegemite sandwich) and checking that I had all the relevant paperwork ready to go.

We posed for photos, first G with her little sister sitting on the front step, then all four of us, proud parents beaming at the camera and G poking out her tongue.

As the clock ticked closer to 9 am we started our first walk to school. Her backpack seemed bigger than she was, I'm sure I had a smaller bag when I went round the world. I held G's hand and listened to her excited chatter – she wasn't nervous she told me; it was going to be the best day ever.

We arrived with hordes of other parents clinging on to their offspring amid the hustle and bustle of the school. It was easy to spot the new parents from the seasoned ones, apart from a look of general shell shock, their children had the brightest uniforms and cleanest bags. G squeezed my hand a little tighter. Maybe she was a little bit nervous after all. 

The principal welcomed all the new students and explained the enrolment procedure. As we talked G started to hop from one foot to the other. A tell tale sign – she needed a wee. 

G, who has never been one for doing things quickly, faffed about in the bathroom, oblivious that we were missing out on the welcome assembly. Finally she emerged from the cubical and after a quick deep and meaningful about the importance of hand washing (G reminded me that we must always wash our hands carefully to prevent the spread of germs and other yucky things like worms) we were on our way.

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Finally it was time to meet her teacher and explore her classroom. My bold child dropped my hand and dashed off to check out a display of dragons, happy to get on with it. I said a quick goodbye and swallowed the big lump in my throat.

I thought about G all day. I wondered what she was doing and who she was talking to. I hoped that she'd made some friends (she had) and that she'd eaten all of her lunch (she had not). Most of all I hoped that she would be as happy at the end of the day as she had been at the start.

At 3pm I waited with a group of other apprehensive parents outside G's classroom. We exchanged polite small talk and swapped notes about school mysteries like library bags and the canteen.

Then one by one little faces began to appear in the doorway. My heart leaped when I saw G – who was still smiling.

G talked non-stop on the way home. She told me that she had played with everyone and that her teacher was really nice. She told me that the playground was big, but that her buddy had shown her around. She told me that there was a school library and that if I gave her a dollar she could get an ice block from the canteen.

Then she told me that she'd lost her hat.

Later we had fish and chips for dinner in celebration of G's first day. She had started her formal education and done us proud with her confidence and enthusiasm. And I had managed not to cry and leaned an important lesson – always buy a spare hat.

I wonder what lessons await us in term two.

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