Monday, 7 September 2015

When your only child starts school

Today is the start of a new era - my little boy has started school. My only child. My baby. Only he's not a baby any longer...or a toddler...or even a preschooler. He's almost five years old and, as of today, he's now officially a schoolchild. Off he went this morning in his new uniform with mummy loaded up with book bag, PE kit, spare clothes, wellies and a water bottle all labelled with his name. We were up, breakfasted and dressed by 7:30am which left plenty of time for playing and for taking those all important photos before daddy left for work. We were all organised and then suddenly there was a last minute wobble as we were due to leave the house - "I don't want to go!" - which meant we were running a few minutes late. We had a cuddle and an emergency phone call to daddy (who was on his way to work by that time) before finally leaving the house with me panicking about the time. Not the best start but I'm sure teachers are used to first day tardiness due to last minute nerves. A game of 'I Spy' distracted my boy on the walk to school and by the time we arrived at his classroom, found his peg and had caught sight of his friend, all nerves seemed to have been forgotten. He let me leave with no more than a quick kiss goodbye. A familiar face and a load of toys and it was 'mummy who?'

His first day is only a half day and so it will be time to collect him soon. Hopefully he will have had a fun morning and any sadness and worry will have faded. But what about for me? I have no real worries for him - once he has had a few days to settle in, he will be fine. He's a bright boy and one of the older children in his year group, so he is more than ready for school and to take those first tentative steps in his formal educational journey. And yet, still it seems so soon. It seems only weeks ago that he was learning to walk, toddling along in his dungarees (I miss dungarees - he looked so cute in them!).

Like all the other parents waving their child off on their first day today, I'm wondering where the time went. Where my baby went. When your firstborn child starts school, it's a time of anxiety. How will they cope? What are the demands of a school day? How do the logistics work for parents? Do we have enough spare jumpers? It's a learning curve for parent and child alike. And it's emotional too. Parents who have been through it before and are now dropping off their youngest seem more confident. They know the drill and it doesn't faze them. But it's even more emotional in some ways - the last child growing up and the baby stage finished for good. The end of an era. As a parent of an only child, it's all of those things at once because he's my eldest AND my youngest. I've got to let my last baby - my only baby - go into this new stage without ever having done it before. An emotional day for me. A new journey for my son and a new journey for me; I wonder what lies ahead.

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