In the dark

And so, after a summer that went by in a flash, we’re back into our term-time routine – and I’m back to not having the faintest idea about what my son gets up to all day. Because whatever I ask The Boy about his day at school, the answer is always the same: ‘I can’t remember.’ This was kind of excusable when he was in Nursery, and even in Reception, to some extent. But now he’s in Year One, surely he should, come 3.15pm, have some vague idea about how he has spent the past six hours?

Getting information about school out of The Boy is like extracting blood from a stone, only more difficult. It’s especially frustrating given that in general, he’s an insufferable chatterbox and loves nothing more than the sound of his own voice. He’ll spout off for hours about his Lego collection, his new shoes or his invisible friend Bob, and yet when I ask him about his day, I draw a complete blank. And it doesn’t matter how much I prompt him.

‘Who’s in your group?’

‘I can’t remember.’

‘Did you read to anyone today?’

‘I can’t remember.’

‘Who did you play with at lunchtime?’

‘I can’t remember.’

In fact, so far, all that the The Boy can remember about his first days in Year One are the names of his teacher’s kittens – and when they were born. Seriously. He can remember the birthdays of Miss J’s cats, and the fact that Max is fatter than Mia because he eats all the food, but he can’t remember whether he changed his reading books or not.

Sometime I worry about The Boy and his lack of short-term memory. He can drag up the most insignificant details from events long since past (songs he heard on holiday two years ago; the presents he was given for his third birthday) and yet he can’t remember what he had for lunch. It’s almost as if he has (very) early onset Alzheimer’s. But then I know that in reality, when he says he can’t remember what he’s been doing at school, it’s more a case of, ‘I can remember – but I’m not going to tell you.’

Ever since The Boy started pre-school at two and a half, I’ve found it hard to get used to the idea that there are whole big chunks of his life that I know nothing about. It wasn’t so bad when he was in Nursery and Reception; then, we got to collect our children from the classroom each day, which provided the opportunity to ask the teacher whether he’d got on okay, and to have a quick look at the work stapled to the walls. But now we drop them off and collect them from outside the door. And without those hasty few words with the teacher, and those sneaky peeks at the wall displays, I feel completely in the dark about what The Boy is doing. I’m already relying on piecing together information about what goes on in the classroom based on the few details The Boy does give away, combined with what the other children in the class have told their mums.

I know that this is all part and parcel of The Boy growing up. I know that it’s only natural that the bigger he gets, the more separate his life will become from mine. But, well, it just all seems a bit early. He’s not even six yet, and already I feel shut out from what he’s doing. I’ve tried open questions, leading questions, guessing games, but ultimately, if The Boy doesn’t want to tell me what he’s been up to, there’s nothing I can do about it. I can already foresee him becoming the sort of teenager who only phones home if he wants something.

For now, though, I suppose I’ll just have to wait until parents’ evening to find out what happens inside that Year One classroom. Oh, and if any of The Boy’s classmates’ mums read this and have anything to divulge about what our little angels have been doing so far, please do let me know; perhaps between us, we can actually uncover the truth!

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