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Things that seem simple to some can be a minefield for others. I admit that I am an older mum, but my brain hasn’t gone to mush. I am not stupid; in fact, I am quite clever – so why does the playground expectation and language floor me every time?

The downside of adopting a year two child is that you haven’t learnt the way to behave when your little one is in nursery, reception or year one. You haven’t been allowed to ask those ‘stupid questions’ that no one knows the answer to, because you are new AND make those mistakes. In nursery, reception or year one you’re allowed to ask a million questions or make a million mistakes but, surely, by year two you’re supposed to know?

It all seems so simple to the gaggle and it made me feel inadequate. Assembly is on Tuesday… but no one tells me where assembly is or what time it starts – everyone else seems to know by osmosis. So I flush red – breathing through the incredulous looks as I ask these questions. I deal with the, “Wasn’t it the same as your last school?” I mumble, “Oh, you know,” but of course I don’t.

It takes all my courage as I broach, “So how do I get my daughter into breakfast club or after school club?” The response is frustrating: “Nothing’s changed from last year, just do it on School Gateway.” Argghhh! I don’t even know what School Gateway is and there wasn’t even a little piece of paper that told me what time activities were…

I stand in the cold as parents are moaning that it is always the same people helping out at school trips, sports day or school fairs. So I think, “Oh, I didn’t know extra people were needed, how do I get involved?” The response is, again, not useful. “Speak to your class parent rep.”  Now, to most this is simple, but to me it shouts ANOTHER BIG FAIL – what is a class parent rep and who the hell is mine??!!

The list is endless and it’s a minefield: play dates & birthday parties – how much should I spend, should I offer to help? Does she have to accept if she isn’t keen on the child – how do I ensure she gets off to a flying start – how many times can I say no to sleep overs before they stop asking? (She just isn’t ready to be away from me yet!)

Then, there is the knowing look; comments about absent fathers; working mothers; dresses being too short; kids turning up without hats in the summer; umbrellas not allowed in the class and evening parents events ( I am a single adoptive mother without any babysitters). As I say it’s endless… I sit there and nod in ALL the right places and smile politely. Years of difficult negotiations in a high powered job at work did not prepare me for this type of poker face.

But in the end we have 5 weeks to go before the end of term. I have managed to make two really good friends, been on three school trips, attended two assemblies, one nativity and one recorder concert on time, hosted two sleepovers and numerous play dates. I sold raffle tickets and smiled – even when I didn’t understand what on earth was going on! I got her to birthday parties with a relevant gift & managed a cleanish uniform every day, remembering a PE kit twice a week, library books and recorder on Tuesdays. Meanwhile, she has blossomed with numerous friendships, awards and being voted in to represent her class at various activities. She still skips to school and I manage to get a kiss most mornings and a hug most evenings.

I still don’t understand the playground politics and half the things people say; I haven’t volunteered at a school fair, but I have the best of four years to get it right, so here’s hoping!

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