On the first day of school, the kids were given a parent survey to be filled in and returned to the teacher. The form started somehow inevitably with the same questions we had already answered in the pre-school survey and the school enrolment form, with parents' names, child living arrangements, child's favourite things, etc. (Coming from the corporate world, the repetitiveness and inefficiency of data gathering for schools, hospitals and other government institutions is still a sort of marvel no matter how often one encounters it).
At the end of the form, a small space was left for the last question: "Have you any concerns?"
I'm a modern parent aren't I?
Of course I do!
For M, I wrote:
"She often 'does her own thing' and doesn't always follow instructions. If she thinks she can't do something well she will avoid it and sometimes muck it up for others by creating a distraction, getting mad, etc."
The bit at the start of The Simpsons where Lisa is playing her saxophone and waltzes out the room playing her own tune instead of following the class, reminds me of my M. This part is a good trait - I remind myself - and not one we want to be drummed right out of her, but it won't do her any favours in her school career if she can't concentrate on a task and follow instructions, either.
Truth to tell I am not that concerned about M at the moment. From being my very shy and clingy little girl, who once couldn't make friends and relied so heavily on her sister, M has in the last year blossomed and become quite the social butterfly. My only social concern now is, still giddy from her newfound social success, she has tended of late to abandon her sister or a friend when someone better comes along, or has informed me haughtily that so-and-so is annoying her and always wants to play with her. We stress the importance of being nice and including everyone in games, and remembering your friends and your manners - and hope her behaviour is okay when we're not around. I think it is - mostly - but then I probably would, wouldn't I?
For A, I wrote:
"She seems to have lost a little confidence lately especially socially with other kids. Very easily upset, very sensitive to thinking others are laughing at or judging her. Not sure where this has come from."
My gorgeous, friendly, confident little A, seems to have had a couple of knocks of late. Suddenly the social roles seem to have reversed, and where once A was the friend-maker and M sat in the corner, it seems now A is more reliant on her sister than the other way around.
Actually that's not true - both are in fact heavily reliant on the other, and both also function very well on their own or one-on-one with someone else. But lately A seems to be much less socially confident and more sensitive to social snubs and dangers. Has something happened, or is this all part of socialising and growing up?
Her daycare teacher assures me the latter, and that A is fine, happy and completely normal, and that this sort of change is very normal for little girls in particular, as they transition from the familiar kinder/daycare to the big new world of school.
Just something for us to keep an eye on I suppose.
As a parent, it can be difficult sometimes to know what is normal behaviour and what is "red flag" behaviour.
Kids are strong and resilient, which we do sometimes forget - and no one grows up unscathed either; the knocks and shocks build us into the people we become.
But it is still hard watching them navigate all this and having to let them do a lot of it by themselves.
And yes, that's right - this is only day 2 of school. So when it comes to worry, clearly I am going to have to pace myself.