My Kid Is About To Start School. Here's Why That Is Terrible, Terrible News
ILLUSTRATOR Roland Mae Tanglao
Until recently, I never understood why parents got so emotional about their kid starting school. Because that’s a good thing, right? They’re suddenly someone else’s business for six hours a day. You drop them off in the morning and, by the time you pick them up, they’ve eaten and exercised and grasped the basics of long division. Perfect.
But now I’d like to take everything back. I am three months away from my oldest son’s first day at school, and I am FREAKING THE FUCK OUT about it.
It’s hard to properly sum up why I’m having such a high-frequency school-based meltdown. So, instead, I’m just going to bulletpoint my main concerns and you can do what you like with them.
If my current parenting style has a shape, it’s a blob. It’s a dropped jelly, an undercooked poached egg. There’s no structure to it, and it’s all made up on the fly. Everything gets done, and everyone’s happy, but it’s ramshackle. Meanwhile, school is a flinty, hard-edged square. It’s all right angles and fences. It starts at a set time, it ends at a set time. His clothes have to be thoroughly stitched with the proper labels. His shoes have to be a specific colour. We can’t just waltz off on holiday whenever we feel like it. I’m convinced that the entire education system was set up specifically to make me look stupid, and I’m not thrilled about it.
His New Friends
This is already causing me trouble. Whenever I take my son to a playground or a supermarket or anywhere with people, I’m struck by the sheer concentrated awfulness of every other four-year-old in the world. They’ve got buzzcuts and sloping foreheads and tattoos, and they wear camouflage jackets and smoke cigarettes. They walk around with pitbulls on strings, and they’ve all got cuts on their knuckles from punching policemen in the teeth. Logic dictates that my son – my beautiful, innocent, angelic son – will befriend at least one of these bastards, and he’ll be hooked on heroin by Christmas as a direct result.
Something I’ve noticed from afar is that everyone with a school-age child has to make friends with all the other parents in their kid’s class. They have Whatsapp groups and Facebook communities and they go out for drinks together and I swear to god if this happens to me you can punch me unconscious in the street. I’ve worked incredibly hard all my adult life to dissolve my social obligations to the point of nonexistence, and the last thing I want to do now is have a joyless monthly Wetherspoons trip to discuss unimportant school minutiae with people I have zero in common with when there’s perfectly mediocre television I could be falling asleep in front of.
Birthday Parties, Part One
Some schools insist that, if your child has a birthday party, you must invite every single child in their class. Even the ones your child doesn’t know very well. Even the bullies. Even the biters. Even the ones who have already been predetermined by fate and genetics to grow up to become arsonists and sexual deviants. This is a terrible policy because, a) in a class of 30 children, my son will be invited to one party every 12 days, and b) I am absolutely turbofucked if I’m hosting a birthday party for 30 people every year. The only way around this, I’ve realized, is to gaslight my kids into hating their own birthdays. It’s cruel, but it’ll get me out of a lot of stuff, so it’s probably justified.
Watching Him Get Flattened Out By The System
Right now, my son is endearingly eccentric. He’s obsessed with whales and, thanks to a day of YouTube exploration following the discovery of a Godzilla poster at a cinema, the Gamera kaiju films of the 1960s. He’s got shaggy hair and often pretends to be a dog. He’s spent the last two days exclusively calling me ‘Katie’. All I want is for him to carry this innocence with him throughout his whole life, and I’m terrified that the regiment of school and the influence of other kids is going to beat it out of him.
Birthday Parties, Part Two
I’ve heard that parents are actually expected to attend these parties as well as children. I can’t just drop my kid off and let him tear about the place blasted off his mind on E-numbers for three hours while I go home and nap. No, I actually have to be there, making godawful smalltalk with people I don’t care about in a room that will invariably sound like a pet shop burning inside an abandoned grain silo. I have a Plan B here, which is to bribe my wife into going to all the parties instead of me, but I’ve probably blown that now I’ve said it out loud. Jesus Christ. This whole thing is the absolute worst.
I’m Going To Miss Him
Everything is about to change, and I’m going to miss having my little friend around. He’s going to grow up and leave me and I’ll die alone. Important note: this is the main thing I’m worried about.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.