Last Tuesday 18th April was a date etched in my mind, because it was the date we’d be finding out if you would be going to our first-choice school for you. I’d joked about how if we didn’t get first choice it might send me into an early labour, but we did, and we’re still waiting on this baby.
The actual finding out part was something of a comedy of errors; our local government website said the emails would go out in the evening, then late afternoon, someone on a local Facebook group said they started going out at 5pm. At 6ish I received a text from eAdmissions saying an email had been sent . . . but it hadn’t. I spent a while hitting refresh and still . . . nothing. I went back onto the local government website, flustered, couldn’t remember my email and login details. I asked (screeched at) Adam to run upstairs (I don’t run anywhere these days) to bring me my copy of The BFG, where I’d written down and stashed this crucial info. I then realised I was on the wrong site, found the eAdmissions site, flustered a bit more about logging in and then, there it was. Your name and confirmed first choice school place.
I shouted the news to a delighted Adam and broke into heaving, uncontrollable sobs. You looked at me, alarmed and I’m sorry for that. ‘Mummy’s just so . . . so happy you got into your school!’ I sob-exclaimed, which is true, but also isn’t.
It’s a great school, close by and is one of the reasons we chose to live where we do. Some of your friends from nursery will be going there, and I think by September you will be ready for it too. But I just don’t know if I will be. Because it seems so big, and though you are tall you seem so little to me.
Certainly, since turning four you have changed a lot, we have even more brilliant conversations now and your observations and mannerisms are fascinating. You start a lot of sentences with ‘You know mummy’, you regale me with tales of dinosaurs and yesterday you used the word palaeontologist five times in a row and I was like a goldfish. You tell ‘jokes’ – ‘Mummy/Daddy, I’ve got a joke. There was a poo-poo and he walked across the road and there was another poo-poo and he was squashed HA HA HA HA!’ You’ve mastered the art of taking selfies on my phone and you find it HILarious. You can draw your letter ‘Z’ and sort of write your name, you write out your number 4 and you can undress yourself. These things you do that make you seem more grown-up are, I find, a bit deceiving.
Because you still sleep with your arms up by your head, like a baby.
If you hurt yourself or get upset, you cry for me.
When I put you to sleep in your ‘down bunk’ at night, you snuggle down away from me, but you reach your little arm back to touch mine, to make sure I’m still there.
You still cry for MoreGuin and he goes to nursery with you.
You let me cuddle you loads and sometimes say you wish you could hug me all day. You’ll be a teenager (gasp) in no time at all; I know you won’t then.
You are sweet and funny, loud and mischievous, kind and cute, energetic and sometimes exasperating.
When you go into that school, a brand-new place filled with so many new faces and things for you to learn and adjust to, I can’t be there when you are sad. Or if you hurt yourself. Or what if someone says or does something that might hurt you? I can’t bear it. I want to protect you forever at the same time as knowing I can’t possibly. You are independent and that will grow. All the things that make you you, I know them so well. The new people you meet won’t though. The times when you are vulnerable and we are there to dry your tears, your innocence, your sweetness. My lovely little boy; I hope you encounter so much love and kindness, and return it too. You don’t know yet what an awful place the world can be, and we want to protect you from it for as long as we can. I hope you will be lucky enough to meet great friends, to be confident and strong as you go through school, to not experience suffering at the hands of bullies, again; I can’t bear it. These are the worries I can’t escape from, and they will be true as you go through your life at every big stage. It’s what being a parent is, I suppose, and I’m going to have to toughen up to it. I’ve said it before; I promise not to embarrass you at those school gates on that first day. Letting go of your hand will be as hard as handing you over on that first day of nursery. But I will be brave, I promise. I’ll obviously come home and cry my eyes out, but that’s standard. For me, anyway.