Dudelet is digging into his bowl of Hoops and humming to himself. I have the same habit.

“How do you feel about Year 3?” I ask him. He’s only got a week and a bit of Year 2 left.

“Well, I’m a bit worried because we’ll be the smallest in the playground.”

He’s not joking. All this year he’s been one of the biggest – the Year 2s tower over the Reception class and amiably lord it over the Year 1s. But next year, he’ll literally pass through two gateways into the Big Playground where the mysteries of Years 3 to 6 lurk, tooled up and ready to rumble. Also, how typical of my son to say ‘smallest’ instead of ‘littlest’.

“How do you mean?”

“The Year 6s are really big! Even bigger than you!”

“Well, some of them. People are sorts of sizes at that age.”

“I’m a bit nervous.”

“Hmm. I know it’s scary but there are always going to be those gateways. Like when you went to Reception or when you go to High School. I can’t remember my first day at primary school – your Year 3 but I still remember when I went to High School.”

“That’s funny! I was just going to ask you that!”

I look at him. He’s actually interested.

“Well, you know how teachers at your school, when you squabble…”


“Kind of argue or push or shove each other for some reason. You know how teachers tell you to be friends and perhaps make you sit in the thinking corner for a bit?”

“Yes. I suppose that happens. Sometimes.”

“Okay. Well, on my first day at High School, I got into one of those squabbles with another boy in a craft class and we got sent out. And the craft teacher – a really huge man who looked like he should have long fangs like a goblin – grabbed us and threw us out of the classroom. So we were a bit nervous and we decided that we’d explain to him that we’d made it up and sorted things out and so on. And…”

“And what happened?”

“He came out, whacked us both on the side of the head – it really stung my ear – and told us not to do it again or we’d be up before Brother X, the Headmaster and he’d give us six.”


“Look, you know they used to hit children in schools? And how they aren’t allowed to do it anymore?”

“Yes I know. Phew.” He shakes his head solemnly.

“So, anyway,” I finish up, a bit lamely. “Year 3 is nothing to worry about.”

“Okay. Can I watch telly now?”


I sit down for two minutes to eat my toast (I can hear that little elf, who is a complete grump in the mornings, just like her mother, is in-bound). I don’t want him to pass those gates any sooner than he has to. But here they come.

About Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

Writing, reading, listening, parenting... On Twitter as @dadwhowrites. View all posts by Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

8 responses to “Gateways

  • AnneCamille

    What a wonderful conversation. I came across some old film recently and decided to get it developed even though I knew it would probably be bad because it was so old. On one roll there were pics of my son in 1st grade (age 6), another when he started a new school in 5th grade (age 11). It was fun to remember those times so unexpectedly (I had no idea that the film was that old — taken 12 & 17 years ago) but bittersweet to think how quickly he passed through those gates.

  • bsouth

    The girl has her next gateway in September. From reception to year 1. She seems a lot more relaxed about it than I am.

  • T

    Wow. Interesting conversation.

    If THAT is what you mean by corporal punishment, then I’m glad it’s not allowed anymore. I never saw anything wrong with a paddle to the bottom but then again, it wasn’t usually me that was getting them.

    I still think, when it comes to spanking, that there’s a way to do it respectfully… and a way not to. The above is how NOT to.

    Just my .02.

  • J

    I’m so glad teachers aren’t allowed to hit kids in school anymore. Ugh. Those transitions are difficult and scary. Our daughter is somewhat stoic, and seems to take it all in with grace, totally in stride. But then a few years later, out of nowhere, she admits that it was very difficult and stressful. I guess that’s good, though, that she can face difficult and stressful situations with grace, huh? Still, it was a bit disconcerting.

  • joem18b

    I was in line for six of the best, along with the requisite “Please, Sir, may I have another?” The fellow before me took his without a peep, turning the brightest red in the face. He was a country boy whom I looked down upon, but I was greatly impressed with him that afternoon. I was such a jumpy chicken that Mr…. well, I’ve forgotten his name now, but he looked just like a young Rock Hudson… gave up on me, disgusted, after a single whack.

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