As a mum of an 11 year old daughter who is about to embark on secondary school in September, I’m already exceptionally nervous about what the rest of the year has to hold. Having once completed this same journey, I can’t help but hear my mum when I speak the words, “it’s different now to when I was 11”, but I really think it is.
It was almost a quarter of a century when I started my summer anticipating everything the secondary school would have on offer. Looking back I remember that bell bottom trousers had just come back into trend, I needed a satchel stylish bag & plenty of scrunchies. I begged for the latest Adidas galaxy trainers & a new pencil case, & that was about it. I was nervous about mixing with older children, moving classrooms for lessons & beginning to learn a new language.
The last 2 weeks of my daughters time at primary school surprised me somewhat with leaving books, leavers play, transition days & a prom. With some of things they had taken into account, I was surprised about what my daughter hadn’t been taught, in what I used to have as PSE, personal & social education.
Firstly I have done my best to prepare my daughter for starting her periods, but oblivious to the lessons we received she seems to be in denial that these will ever happen to her, along with hating boys, no interest in make-up & apart from playing a few games on it, has no need for a phone. I feel that as a parent, over the next 6 weeks I have the challenge of preparing my daughter in many more ways than she has been
⁃ Sex education
⁃ Social media
⁃ Even the concept of Santa
⁃ What’s “cool”? In my day I had trainers to worry about & not taking my PE kit in a Netto carrier bag, now its phones, laptops, designer shoes & coats, tickets to see the latest bands, what social media accounts they are allowed on, jewellery, hair colour, nails, this list is endless & maybe I don’t remember it correctly, but I’m sure I was older when I worried about the majority of these things.
In fortunate that she has no interest in make-up, or still believes in the tooth fairy, but I also feel that if I leave her like this, I’m leaving her in a naive & vulnerable position from the outset. Sadly my mum & mum-in-law is no longer with us, and although I’m sure they just made it up, I was looking forward to gaining their memories & opinions on when I should broach subjects or let them be broached. When do I talk to her about shaving her legs & plucking her eye brows, when do I I allow her to have social media accounts, is it too soon or too late to discuss relationships & being careful with contraception. The thing is I think my mum was winging it too, a boy laughed at me at school one day for wearing a skirt with hairy legs, I’d never noticed but from that day on I shaved my legs. Although there wasn’t social media, there was when were you allowed to go to the local shopping centre on your own, mine was Crystal Peaks & although I can’t remember what age i was, I’m sure my mum went back & forth deciding what age was right & eventually just caved in, like having my ears pierced.
She isn’t worried about learning a new language, she’s been learning French all the way through her junior school years. IT as it was in my day is no longer a concern as she’s better on an iPad than me and can google the answer to everything in a matter of seconds. A pencil case is almost redundant & the uniform is how strict enough that only AST approved school trousers can be worn, so I don’t have to worry about the latest trend.
I guess there really is no manual for raising children & that she will probably lead the way with most of the upcoming conversations. I’m looking forward to my summer with her & her sister as after some of the funny & horror stories I’ve heard, come September, I might not see her again until Christmas, and only know she’s there from the occasional grunt from her room. Of course I’m convinced she’ll be different, never break the rules, honest & open with me about everything, exceed in school & think I’m a cool mum, but in reality as much as I love being close & being her friend, I know that my time as her parent is about to be tested & I’ll see a new side of both of us emerge. Hopefully I’m not the only parent feeling like this or I’m just going to have to fake that I have it all in hand!