Rules are rules

My eldest isn’t a rule breaker. On the contrary, he follows rules to the letter of the law (with the exception of course of Mummy-imposed rules regarding bedtimes, teeth cleaning, the dropping of clothes on the floor etc). He wants other people to follow them, polices his brother and sister and can’t understand people who break them – sometimes willingly!

Now he’s in a big, new, scary world. He’s a very small fish in a large sea of around 2,000 pupils, some of whom are technically adults, and there’s a whole new set of rules to follow. And he’s scared.

I feel sorry for him. Because he isn’t ever going to break those rules, not just because he disagrees with breaking rules, but because he is a good kid. He’s not going to break them ‘accidentally’ because he isn’t going to misbehave. But he is living his life on the edge of fear, those rules constantly niggling away at him.

After the initial excitement and happiness of the settling in period, read about that here he has gone back to his old ways. He’s being quiet about school, we don’t know a lot about what’s going on. We assume he’s happy, but we’re not totally sure. We don’t know what subjects he has when.

So my husband tried to engage him in conversation – what is he enjoying, who are his friends, has he had any bad days? What was his worst day so far?

He answered without hesitation – ‘The day I forgot my uniform card’.

The uniform card has to be carried at all times. If you are caught wearing you uniform incorrectly, it will be stamped by a teacher. This is A BAD THING. If you don’t have your card on you, you will get detention.

He’s a Year 7 boy from a nice, middle class background. He is not a rebel. He’s got a brand-new, smart uniform. He is never going to be asked for the uniform card. He is never going to need it signing. Yet my poor boy lived through that whole day in a state of fear. He’d broken a rule, albeit unintentionally. He couldn’t see the bigger picture, that he wasn’t going to have to produce the damn card anyway because he clearly wasn’t contravening any rules. So that day was the worst of his short secondary school career.

The other day I got a phone call shortly after he’d left for school.

A little voice said nervously – ‘I’ve forgotten my violin’.

He’s worried again. I need to take the violin to him at break time. I plan to arrive five minutes into break, but he rings me as I’m driving.

I meet him by the open school gate. ‘I’m not allowed to come out’ he whispers. I pass the gate across the divide. Because I’m not allowed to go in. We would be breaking school rules.

As I get in the car, he turns to me and smiles and waves. It is one of the nicest smiles and waves I’ve ever seen. It conveys so much and I understand it completely.

It says ‘I love you, Mummy, but I call you Mum in front of my friends now because I’m at secondary school, I’m very grateful to you for bringing me my violin, I was feeling nervous before, but I feel better now, I’m going to wave to you, but I’m going to keep it small and discreet because it’s not cool to wave when you’re in Year 7’.

So my son breathed a sigh of relief and I got the nicest wave and smile ever from him and no rules were broken. This time.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. God I am almost transported back to being a child again! the stress and importance of the tiniest little things going wrong – how insane! He sounds like a fab kid, it must be such a tough change to get to ‘big’ school. I’m certain you are a fab mum xxx

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  2. school rules suck! I hated the worrying and will be worried for the girls at school! Far too many rules I say! great post x

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  3. We’ve said this before but your eldest sounds so like my middle one! She is such a stickler for rules and gets so anxious about it and upset by others who are breaking them! Life is so black and white in her eyes. It’s tough for him in that big environment and only mums understand sometimes!

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  4. Thanks very much for your comments, everyone! To adults, those seem like such stupid rules. I want to tell him not to worry and that they are stupid rules, but I know I was just the same at his age and probably still am.
    I try my best to be a fab mum, WallyMummy 🙂
    Our kids are so similar, Suzanne! He sees the world completely in black and white, I’m trying to get him to understand grey areas, but he’s not there yet!

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  5. He sounds like an absolute credit to you. My son has just started secondary school and has a ‘thing’ about swearing. He hates it so it’s been tough for him getting used to that. He doesn’t like to break rules either, unless of course it’s the one about not buying sweets at break time. Grey areas are a muddle for him, except when it comes to sweets it seems!

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  6. Oh bless him, I hate stupid school rules. I always took issue with rules about hair cuts that were nothing to do with safety.

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  7. Wow, what a brilliant post. My 11 year old son also started in year 7 this September so I totally understand everything you said. He got a 5min detention on the third day for not putting his pen down in time. He was mortified and so upset. Hope it all goes smoothly for you and your son xxx

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  8. That is such a lovely post! It is so hard I know as a teacher that rules are essential but these uniform cards rules and the having to get planners signed religiously can get a bit out of hand! He will settle in and gain confidence and in my experience the ones that get into real trouble are the actual rule breakers themselves anyway!

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  9. Bless him. My 8 yo is already stressing about her move to big school in three years time. She goes to a village school of 50 children (total) and the secondary school in the town must seem a scary old place.

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  10. I remember on my first day at junior school, aged 7, my teacher outlining ‘3 Golden Rules’, all of which concerned talking at inappropriate times!

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  11. Thank you all very much for your lovely comments, I really appreciate them.
    Glad I’m not the only one with an 11 year old boy finding his feet and feeling that certain rules are a bit OTT!
    Your poor girl, TD, that will be a massive step up. Our primary has 410 kids and the secondary is verging on 2,000. Don’t think my other two will go there though.
    You can see a little bit of sense in talking rules, James. Make more sense than carrying a card in case you need it signed!

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  12. My eldest son has just started secondary school – so hard ! They have to grow up so quick! X Popped over from the blog hop. x

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  13. They certainly do! My son is now saying he was ‘really ready to leave primary school’. He has rewritten history because that’s not the case!
    Thanks very much for commenting, I really appreciate it. Great to know the blog hop works too! 🙂

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  14. PS Applebypie – I’ve just noticed you are a new follower! Thanks very much – and welcome!

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