We have stumbled, finally, agonisingly, exhaustedly to the end of LittleBear's first term at school. And, despite all my worst fears, he is not starving at lunchtimes, he is not standing alone and friendless at the edge of school life, he is not dreading every day. Far from it - he comes home with a bounce and a thumbs up, telling me he's had a lovely day. And, aside from the occasion when he wasn't allowed to play in the playground as he was in danger of losing his precariously-clinging, re-inserted tooth, he's never objected to going to school. And he is almost inseparable from at least one best friend, with a whole string of others who he seems delighted to play with.
And, as it's the end of term, and teachers don't already have enough to do, he's come home with his "Learning Journey", complete with mini-report from his teacher (with whom I am still slightly in love, because she's basically the most perfect primary teacher I've ever seen). And I read his little report, and thought to myself "yep, that's me, and that's him too".
First up... what does LittleBear need to work on?
He needs to learn to manage his emotions in different situations. Mmmmm. He certainly does. But then, so do I. I'm the one who has been known to burst into tears at work. Outside the school gates. At the doctor's surgery. At toddler group. On the shoulder of the carers at nursery. I'm the one who rants and swears about work on an almost daily basis. To anyone who'll listen. Managing my emotions is not my strong point. And I try, I really do try, to help LittleBear find ways to express his feelings without letting them overwhelm him, but given I don't know how to manage it yet, I feel I'm facing a losing battle attempting to show him how to do so. We'll keep struggling on together though, and maybe along the way I'll learn a few things too.
And what it LittleBear really good at?
He loves to learn and he has a deep understanding of mathematics. Bless him, he really does love both learning and maths. This is the LittleBear who piped up from the back seat, "Mummy, are there fifteen 50s in 750?" When probed, it turned out he'd known there were two 50s in one hundred, and that there are seven 100s in 700, so there were fourteen 50s in 700 (because 2 sevens are 14) and one more to make 750. And why had he been working this out in his head? Because he likes doing it. And the thing is, that doesn't seem odd to me. It's what I do. I like playing around with numbers in my head, for no reason other than that they're there and I can. I used to love our old style of number plates in this country, they had much more scope for playing number games in my head than the new ones. Let me explain...
We used to have letter, letter, letter, number, number, number, letter (or the opposite). So, when I was a child we had OHO 770 T and RPJ 675 L and XOU 868 J. And having three numbers in a row meant I could spot my favourite patterns, like 238 (2 to the power 3 is 8) or 329 (3 squared is 9). Now we only have two numbers, and they're from a very small subset representing the year the car was registered. Boring.
And that previous paragraph reveals something else to me about myself as a child, and my LittleBear now. I had an extraordinary memory. I used to find it intensely bewildering and frustrating that my parents didn't seem to be able to recall with minute detail every event that had occurred, every book that we'd read, every program that we'd seen. (They, equally, seemed to find my tedious pedantry on such matters equally bewildering and frustrating). Now, however, despite being able to reel off the number plates of the cars of my childhood (a Ford Capri, a Ford Escort and a Mini Clubman, all of them white, since you ask) I am unable to tell you the number plate of BigBear's car, despite having seen it every day for the past 8 or so years. I am unable to recall where or how the obnoxious stretchy toy lizard entered our lives. There are at least half a dozen things I fail to remember to do every day. And yet LittleBear is able to read or hear a piece of information once, and he can recount it to you many weeks or months later. He described almost every detail of the day on which we acquired the aforementioned obnoxious stretchy lizard, including why we went to the shop we went to, and which shop we didn't go to instead. He has taken over my role of Pedant In Chief, complete with frustration and bewilderment that his incompetent mother is unable to keep up with remembering the blindingly obvious.
I suppose I had it coming really.
But I'm still happy he loves playing with numbers in his head.