I always knew the first time I dropped my child off at nursery would make me cry. And it did. I sat sobbing my heart out for the whole 30 minutes he was there, even though I was only across the road just waiting to go back and get him.
I’d suspected that my child’s graduation from that same nursery two and a half years later might make me cry. And it did. There was definitely a tear or two as I looked proudly over at him sat on the stage in his gown and hat below a huge banner congratulating the class of 2015, amazed at how far he’d come from the chubby little 10 month old baby I had first dropped off.
I am sure that I will cry on his first day of “big” school in a few weeks time, when I pull up the car in front of the school and lead him hand-in-hand up to his new classroom to meet his new teacher and classmates as, once again, I entrust this most precious being to essentially complete strangers and hope that they will look after him in the loving, gentle manner I try to do each day.
But I did not expect that the mere act of buying school uniform for said “big” school would cause tears. Yet there they were. We hadn’t even left the driveway on our way to the uniform store and I was already feeling choked up, fighting back the tears as I remembered bringing my little bundle of joy home from the hospital. I remember it like it was yesterday. Now here he is, all grown up. Ok, not ALL grown up, but so much more grown up and it’s all happened so quickly.
I’ve been in complete denial about him starting school. It just seems too soon. Too soon to be losing him to the “system”. Too soon for a strict timetable and routine. Too soon to lose the freedom we have enjoyed the last few years, being able to decide what to do and when to do it. We could go to nursery or not. We could wake up and laze in bed together watching Disney Junior until we were ready to face the world – even on the days we went to nursery there was no rush, we could enjoy a little time at home together and head in when we were ready, throwing on whatever cute clothes I picked out for him. But too soon that will all be gone. Mornings will become a mad rush of books and bags and packed lunches and PE kit and uniform. School uniform. That symbol of belonging to an organisation, something bigger than just him and I and our little family, something that I don’t belong to and something out of my control to a large degree. Something that tells me that I will have to let go of him a little more now. Let him find his place in this bigger world that he will soon be part of.
And that’s why the tears came. Heading off to buy Monkey’s first school uniform was me finally admitting to myself that it is happening, he is growing up and starting school. I know he is ready for it and it will do him good. I’ve seen such a change in him over the last 6 months, his development in every area has amazed me, his language, social skills and physical development have all come on in leaps and bounds. He is now playing with his friends not just alongside them, he uses his imagination to act out and role play all kinds of scenarios which are so much fun to watch, he is curious about the world around him and wants to know more – as clearly evidence by that dreaded “why?” that we are hearing so much these days! The other night I was gobsmacked to hear him “read” a whole book to me at bedtime (he wasn’t actually reading, clearly he’d heard it so many times he’d completely memorised the words, but still, it was very impressive).
I now realise that my initial desire to keep him from starting school so early was not for him, it was more for me. I didn’t feel ready for him to start school, to admit he is not my baby anymore, to hand him over to formal education. So I’ve been resisting it. But he is ready and if I were to keep him in nursery another year I would be holding him back from some wonderful experiences and learning opportunities. So since he is starting school it is time to start getting us both ready for it, both emotionally and practically. Buying the school uniform was the first step in that. Looking at him in his new school uniform made my heart swell with pride at the wonderful boy my beautiful baby has become. It also has me excited for him and everything he will get to enjoy as part of his new school experience.
So, while there is definitely a part of me that looks at him in his school uniform and already sees him in his first suit heading off to his first job, I will try not to focus on how quickly time is passing. Instead I will appreciate what a wonderfully exciting time this should be for him and do the best I can to instil that excitement in him, to show him that I believe he is ready for this next big step so that he can believe in himself too. Plus, he does look super cute in his new uniform and it saves me the job of finding a t-shirt and socks to match a particular shade of shorts each morning!
Is your child starting school this year? How do you feel about it? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you.