As I am sure I have already mentioned Bibsey started school this September and, barring a few scuffles, she has pretty much being going great guns from the get-go. She is happy there.
She attends to the local village school colegio where I think there are about 30 kids in total. In her class, which is a mixed aged group of three, four and five year olds, there are only nine children. No need to worry about her getting enough one-on-one attention from the teacher there.
Given the size and very local nature of our little school I am aware that I face fewer school gate challenges than some of my contemporaries back in England or even down in town where the school is much bigger. However, I am still running the gauntlet daily.
I pass the other parents at the gate or in the corridor that leads to the classroom and various paranoid little niggles pop up in my morning addled brain:
- I should have brushed my teeth.
- When did I last have a shower?
- Yup, that’s yesterday’s mascara.
- Ach devils, no I have not brought the modelling clay that we were all asked to buy.
- Nor have I mended that cuddly rabbit from the class toy box that has been sitting in the corner of my bedroom menacing me for the last couple of weeks.
- Yes, I know, my child looks like she dressed herself today. Guess what, she did.
- No, I picked my own clothes. Why, does it look like a child dressed me?
- Oh my, am I going to have to produce cakes like that when it is Bibsey’s birthday?
… and on and on.
I guess that biggest challenge for me at the school gate is to crack the conversation barrier. As we pass each other in the corridor the other parents and I have the chance to say ¡Hola! and not much more.
I sometimes get the feeling that there is a reticence about starting a conversation with me because perhaps they fear where it might lead (down a rabbit hole perhaps?) and of course the risk is that I might not have a word of Spanish at my disposal at that time in the morning. This of course is not beyond the realms of possibility. Funnily enough, my command of the language is astonishing as I walk down the hill muttering to myself after these brief encounters.
I can’t blame the other parents really. Are any of us at our best and most chatty first thing in the morning after the unrivaled joy of getting kids fed, dressed and out of the house in them morning? And perhaps I am a little bit guilty of scuttling off at high speed as soon as my child is safely in her classroom.
I found myself behind one of the Dads in the bank the other day. We both tried very hard to go about our business without noticing each other, but it was no good, and when I said hello the poor man nearly jumped out of this skin. He looked desperate for an escape, but there was none until we reached the front of the queue.
I do actually know three of the mums reasonably well, but one of these is actually from the village. And as the birthdays come around I am sure that I will get the opportunity crack this barrier.
I just need to be a bit braver.
Now I would love it if you could tell me your school gate traumas. Who’s the Queen Bee? Is it cliquey? Are pajamas acceptable attire or is that just something I read in a magazine?