F was not looking forward to his return to school at all. Or so he said. Until yesterday afternoon, when he pulled out a lettering set he got for a goodbye present from The Husband and made himself an intricately designed 'school folder' out of a discarded manila envelope, with his name and grade in fancy letters. Next, he packed the envelope with the map of the school and all the classrooms and his class list, both provided last year.
He still said he wasn't really looking forward to school.
After dinner, the jig was up. He confessed to being excited, his whole body buzzing with it. He cleaned out his schoolbag. He packed a book about naughty schoolchildren, which he said he would ask his new teacher to read to the class as an example of how NOT to behave. He began plonking various containers on the kitchen table as suggested lunchboxes. These included a shoebox and a Lego container.
We selected and packed his school lunch together after dessert. (Watermelon, a carrot, wholemeal crackers with cheese and two cream biscuits.) He solemnly packed it in his bag, along with his freshly filled West Coast Eagles drinkbottle - a Christmas present from an aunty.
I took his schoolclothes off the line and folded them on the end of his bed.
We were ready.
The bedtime story he chose was, of course, a school story: 4F for Freaks by Leigh Hobbs.
He literally wriggled with excitement as I left the room and switched out the lights. Every time I passed the bedroom door in the hallway, he was squirming back on forth on the bed, contorting his quilt into increasingly odd formations.
'Is it really true that the quicker you go to sleep, the quicker you wake up?'
I woke to a boy in my bed this morning - the small kind.
'I'M GOING TO SCHOOL TODAY!'
As I opened the front door to go, he darted back into the house and returned with a shiny green apple.
'You know what you should give to your teacher ...'
Okay. Good sign.
I looked at his head. During the holidays, he has decided that it's cool to wear your cap backwards. In fact, he's told me that he'll 'look like a nerd' otherwise. I've tried, without luck, to convince him it's the other way round. Now, he has tucked up the backflap of his school cap and turned it backwards.
'If a teacher asks you to turn that around, you must do it' I tell him.
'Are you going to be a good boy for me this year?'
'Uh huh. I have no interest in toilet humour.'
'No. No interest at all. I mean, I think it's funny when, in The Bad Book, [someone whose name I've forgotten] takes off all his clothes. And when Horrid Henry shows his undies. But I would think to myself "that is something I SHOULD NOT do'."
As we cross the creek and approach the start of the cul-de-sac where the school resides, F squeezes me tight around the waist.
'I'm so happy!' he beams.
It's a good start to the year.