Going back to school blues…

It was the second morning back today. It wasn’t such an exciting novelty as it was yesterday.
Yesterday the kids were up bright and early and dressed in good time, and in a unique display of middle-class organisation, had done their piano practice before it was time to head out of the door into the rain and on to school. They went in to their classes happily, excited about their new day and seeing their friends again.
Immie is in Year 1 now. It feels like a big step from Reception. Because we are a fairly small school, the Year 1s are being split into two groups this year for the afternoons – one group will go into Year 2 and the other spend the afternoon back in Reception. Immie is one of the younger ones, so had been given a place in the Reception group. We were told this back in July, and after a bit of time to think about it, I was pleased. It worries me that our children have to grow up so fast, and the nicest school in the world is under a lot of pressure to be getting results from children by Year 2. So we spent the summer telling her how nice it would be that she could still play in Reception in the afternoons, and reminding her of all the friends she would still be with.
Best laid plans…
We went to pick her up from school and waited outside Reception. No Imogen appeared. We asked the teacher where she was. We were told “Oh, she’s in Year 2 now”. Apparently a new child has started in Reception which has meant that, as the next eldest in the class, she has been moved up. When she came out she was so tired she could hardly speak. She said “Mummy, in Year 2 we hardly do any playing, we just write all the time”.
We had a quiet evening and an early night. To be fair, she seemed fine this morning – perhaps just a little quieter.
Now, I know this is a first world problem. I know I am overreacting and that I am lucky my girls go to a nice school in a lovely part of the world. I know that I shouldn’t be worrying as much as I am, but I am worrying! And I am upset. But as someone with a tendency for depression, I know that it is often the little things, not the big tragedies or crises that can set me off worrying. And I know that my worrying is not going to make things any better for her, and I know that she will most likely settle in just fine. But in the meantime I cannot help worrying about my baby having to grow up slightly quicker than I had anticipated.
And the thing about worry is that it can cut you off from everyone. When I worry about something that I know others consider trivial, I am not sure how much I should talk about it. My faith should help, but I find it very hard to pray when I’m worried – some people pray more when they’re worried, but I seem to freeze up.
I have learnt something important though over the years.
When I can’t pray because I’m too stressed or pre-occupied or anxious or depressed, others will pray for me. And that makes a difference. A massive difference. Being part of a community of faith means being part of something bigger than me. It means I don’t have to be alone. It means when my faith is weak others can uphold me. I’ve never really understood it when people say to me “You can be a Christian without going to Church”. Well – maybe. But why would you want to? It is the people of my local Churches and the online faith groups I am part of who have carried me through the toughest parts of my life. It’s their prayers that have sustained me, and sometimes it has been my prayers that have sustained them.
Prayer does make a difference. That probably sounds weird to you – but it does. And so does community.
And so by the end of writing this blog (which perhaps, after all, is a kind of prayer) I find myself aware of all the children across our country going back to school this week, and thinking of all the first day photos and realising that I don’t know what is behind them, and realising that every single one of those families needs support. It is a time of new starts for all of us with school age children (and for teachers of course), and new starts are usually a bit scary, even if you thought you were well prepared for them.

school first day 2017
God be with us on the journey.

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