First day at school is hell for mother

Schools reopened last week and it was back to the grinding stone for the young ones.

Schools reopened last week and it was back to the grinding stone for the young ones.

It is a time of tears for toddlers starting nursery school, and those starting big school. It is heartbreak and worry time for parents.

I remember my daughter's first day at nursery at three-and-half-years old. Though looking slightly bewildered, she does not cry as I leave. I quicken my pace and don't look back, half expecting her to let out a huge scream.

My work day is torture. By 11.30am, I have called the school twice. They reassure me that she is playing happily. I double check if they have my phone number. They do.

My stomach turns cartwheels all day. A psychologist friend, who likes to wear her psychologist's cap all the time, remarks that the mother is more nervous than the child.

I assure her that my fear is rational. My daughter does not speak a word of English. Her class has four black children out of 11 white ones. Even if the other three black kids are not coconuts, they might speak a different African language. As I mechanically go through the paces at work, I wonder why some Einstein had not discovered a way of fast-forwarding time.

At last it is 4pm. I will deal with speeding fines later, I think, as I almost speed like DJ Sbu from Pretoria to Joburg, trying to get to my "miserable child". I screech to a halt at the nursery school, park askance and leap out of my car. My hand is already reaching for the buzzer though I'm a good metre or so away from the gate.

The 30-second or so wait seems like an eternity. I curse my short-sightedness as I scan the busy playground for little red shorts and a Tweetie-Bird white top. Nothing. The gate buzzes. I barge in. A record holder in a walking race would have been left choking in the dust.

Then I see her, happily playing in a sandpit with two white girls and a Chinese one. She looks happy. A huge sigh of relief. Literally. I make a mental note to draw on this moment one day when I need enough breath to blow out sixty candles.

I smile wryly and go to the teacher for feedback. Just like that, I have been robbed of the highly-anticipated drama of the first school day and separation anxiety.