Aimee Horton

It’s not all bad.

May
17

I’m worried.

Being a director on a multi-academy trust, and a chair of the local board at the school both boys attend, I think a lot about how things are going to be in the future. Not just the future of my boys, or the children in the schools in our trust, but of every single child in the country. Not to mention the teachers.

Things are not in a good way, a lot needs fixing.

I’m lucky, this year I had no child sitting SATs, however, I’ve had friends children who are, and I’ve watched and listened at how they are. My heart hurts. I’m a firm believer of a few things; children are sponges, and negativity breeds negativity. The two of them put together is just going to spiral into something I don’t even want to witness.

I could splurge my opinion on SATs and how the government and schools are dealing with them, I could voice even more frustration about holidays and even more about the day to day learning of our children, who from the minute they enter childcare are measured and assessed, and from forty-eight months they start school where there is a whole new level of expectations.

But I’m not going to…not because I’m not worried, I’m bloody terrified. But because I need to be positive so my children are positive, there is enough time for them to face the cold hard facts of life, and even though things are hard for them, it’s my job to shield them.

It’s not always easy, to find the positive when things are bad. So let’s start with the little things.

Today I have two laughing boys. I have two boys who run to me beaming, who willingly tell me about their day (playing snap with a teacher, making a superhero poster) they tell me what was for lunch (lasagne, I’d got it wrong, I’d prepped them for sausage and mash) and admitted they’d left stuff so they could go and play football for their mates.

I asked if they were happy – their biggest worry was the fact I’d made them have hot dinners and if I – and I quote – “could be bothered” to make a pack up they could have had a picnic on the field.

At the park last night, Larry – the child who this time last year used to hide in the bra rack at the supermarket so random people wouldn’t “smile at him” (EGO MUCH) approached children from school in different years and classrooms and together from the ages of five through to eleven they played tag.

It’s not just him though, his brother, their friends, children who I don’t know who I hear trying to decide how many packs of trading cards they can afford. They shout hello to each other in the supermarket at the weekend, imessage (!!!) each other notes on their latest game progress, send pictures from holiday.

Not all schools are perfect right now. The system isn’t right, and teachers are battling to do their best, but it’s not all bad. So let’s fight the things we can, but not involve our kids in that. After all, it’s our battle, not theirs, and they’re only at school once, so let’s try and let them enjoy it.

When it comes to organisation…

Oct
26

Today is the first official day of half term. Today is also my only official work day, and for once, I’m guilt free, because the boys are at their friends house playing. Tomorrow we are going to have a PJ day, and I for one cannot wait – it’s been a busy few weeks.

MENTAL.

And perhaps they’ve not been as organised as I originally intended. I had it all figured out

I had it all figured out, and for the first week of school I was on it like a bonnet. I mean…GET THIS.

Uniform – Labelled – tick. All washed ironed and laid out THE ACTUAL NIGHT BEFORE. Shoes were cleaned with actual shoe cleaner I’ll have you know, not baby wipes.

PE kit went in the wash on Friday night, and was back in the bag, and in the main bag by Saturday lunchtime. Homework was done by Tuesday night, and snack for the seven-year-old, well that was just the right cross of healthy and fun. All packed in little reusable sandwich bags with rockets on.

In the car, we’d air guitar to the specially made play list (so to avoid fights about which song to listen to), and we’d take it in turns picking up and dropping off in each others classrooms. After school treats were always in my pocket, and lunch box Friday was packed on Thursday night, although, grr do not get me started – what sort of freaky children opt for a lunchbox for a treat when the cooked dinner menu is actually fish fingers and actual chips for crying out loud.

But somewhere between then and now, something has gone wrong. I’m not sure what went awry first, maybe I forgot to take a PE kit out of the bag, or the washing machine leaked, but now I think it’s safe to admit I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants.

Jumpers are washed with the dishcloth (remember to check the sleeves this time of year), and snack is anything grabbed from the fruit bowl (if we’re lucky) or (more likely) the treats cupboard, and in the car, I have no idea what we’re listening too.

The thing is though, motherhood is generally unpredictable, isn’t it? All it takes is a burst Ribena carton to change a washing load, or an entire uniform on inside out and back to front (EVERY SINGLE ITEM OF CLOTHING) to mean I forget to put homework books back in the bag. My carefully laid schedule goes to pot at least once a day, and I think I’m coming to realise that even though before I became a mummy I was mega organised and in control, now I am simply going to have to firefight for a few more years.

Which isn’t so bad I guess. I mean, I always say I like to be kept busy, I always bang on about liking a challenge don’t I? So with that in mind, I’m not bothered that both boys are probably going to have to sleep in sleeping bags as the dryer doesn’t appear to be actually drying, and the chicken in the fridge was use by the Friday that’s just gone – I’ll just make Mr Aimee sniff it, and if we’re not sure I’m sure we have some fish fingers in the freezer…

… After all if there’s a gin there’s a way. So pass me one please.

The Next Chapter.

Sep
06

Tomorrow is the next chapter of our lives, because tomorrow Larry starts school. My youngest baby starts school, and I’m TOTALLY FINE about it.

What are you going to do with all that spare time?

Is usually the first question people ask. Followed promptly by them falling over by the force of my fake tinkly laugh.

Because after all, I explain, it’s only one extra afternoon a week then I’m used to. That’s when they look at me as if to say;

So why are you bothered?

But they don’t dare, not after the tinkly laugh. Even when I’m already counselling myself out loud, which makes it sound like some sort of explanation, they’re right. It’s not that different really, it’s the same uniform, it’s the same teachers I know, the classroom is basically two doors down. Oh and did I mention it was free? When I put it like that, which I have done frequently over the last year few months , is it that big of a deal?

Is it really worthy of Next Chapter Status?

In response to the above question. Yes. Yes it is.

Why?

Let’s move on shall we…

But seriously. As I sit here, uniforms laid out, alarms set, children in bed on actual time, why does my heart feel crunched on, and my future seem so different. Probably, because this is the first time I have no control over the situation. Up until now, I’ve decided when he should go to nursery and pre-school and when he shouldn’t. 

Perhaps it’s also the permanency of it all as well. They’re one step closer from not needing us anymore, from growing further away from us. So why didn’t I feel like this first time around?

Because first time around I didn’t know.

First time around, I practically drop kicked Theo through the classroom door. The playground and classroom full of crying parents, and I order him to hang his stuff up and tell a member of staff “don’t take any rubbish, he may look little but he’s totally capable.” It was only on day 3, when I left him at the actual classroom door instead of the cloakroom that I felt the strange weight of my child becoming more independent.

It doesn’t mean I love him any less, the fact that I was almost chomping at the bit to throw him through the classroom doors. Nor does it mean that I love his brother any more because right now I’m secretly hoping his fake-poorly-ear allows me an extra few days with him. In fact, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t really like Larry very much at all when Theo was starting school. I am NEVER EVER going to forget the tantrum where he kicked other parents in the playground when I was ignoring his other tantrum.

But I digress. Why does sending my second, my final, child to school feel like I’m bounding towards the next book in a series? Why does it feel like the current book has ended prematurely, unfinished ends tied messily, pinnacle plot moments forgotten to be concluded?

Is it just because that’s it? That’s another of the ‘firsts’ gone. Done, dusted and put into a social media hall of fame, moving on at 100 miles an hour to the next one?

Is that enough to almost negate the positives – the main one being that I can maybe fit work AND all the boring shit into the school day, so that I can pick them up and be mummy instead of half mummy, half email replier/deadline hitter?

Because those things ARE positive. How can I feel despondent at the thought of them growing older when I’ve clearly stated it has been a vast improvement on recent years?

So, here, as I type this, I refuse to dwell. Maybe it’s just one step closer, three.point.five hours extra to finding that balance.

After all, it’s school. School! It’s different, but not different at all.

Pass the gin, I’m going to need a bucket full.