Up until 7am this morning, school choices for us have been a hugely stressful issue.
Our first foray into schooling seven years ago saw Dan refused all three of his first choice places for first school. All three.
We were the victim of hugely oversubscribed schools – even though our first choice was our catchment school and we could walk there in 5 minutes. AND we live in a fairly quiet town, not a bustling city.
He was then refused a place at his middle school of choice at the age of 9, the one actually attached to the first school he ended up at.
School choice felt like a million miles away for us.
Until that day when you are responsible for your little one’s education; where they will go, the friends they will make, the environment they will spent most of their week at, you cannot possibly realise how crushing it is to be refused the place you’ve hoped for.
To be sat there waiting for that email to come into your inbox, all your hopes and dreams for their future resting on one solitary sentence: ‘Your child has been offered a place at XXXXXXX School’.
I cried when all this happened to Dan I don’t mind admitting. First school wasn’t quite so bad because he had no idea what lay before him, just that he was going to school and would make new friends. I just wanted him to be able to walk to school and his friends live where we live.
But at the age of 9 when the middle school places were offered, when his face crumpled because he would have to go to a school where he knew no one and none of his friends were going, we had night after night of ‘I’m worried’ and tears and quiet moments to himself when I knew he was fretting about it.
I would take myself off in the car and cry and rage at the world and get angry and then cry some more.
Then I would come home, go to his room and hug him and tell him all would be OK because we would get through it together and I would make sure all was good.
Today all that changed as an email popped into my inbox at 2.50am to say Mia has been offered a place at the middle school of her choice.
I could actually cry. Again. Actually cry. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally relax and not think about appeals (I’ve been down that road before) and how to tell her she won’t be able to walk to school with her friends or that we’ll have to try to find somewhere else she likes.
We went through all of this with Dan and it was so so stressful. I felt like I had failed as a parent and I know it sounds melodramatic and over the top but, like I said, until you’ve been there don’t scoff.
I was having to take my kids to two different schools which were miles apart and every day one of them was late and there was nothing I could do about it.
As it is, we took control of Dan’s eduction ourselves last year and he’s blissfully happy now and flying. Which is all any parent wants; to send their child to an environment where they can flourish.
So in September Mia will get to walk to school with her friends and her mum will most probably have yet another tear in her eye, but this time it will be a tear of happiness as my girl gets to move on to the next stage of her life.