We have accomplished so much together these last 4 years. We have achieved milestone after milestone, navigated friendships, chatted incessantly, tried (and failed) at baking, sung, danced and played. You have lived in 3 countries across 2 continents and taken it all in your stride. You have found your way through nursery and pre-school, flown solo without me there to see all your triumphs. And then come home bursting with pride, happiness and stories.
But now you’ve started school. This is a whole different ball game altogether. A six-hour day without you. Five whole days a week.
“Everyone has to grow up Mum”, Big Son said to me just before he started. He was asking me to be brave. I’d started filling his pockets with kisses weeks before in preparation, just in case. On the first day I asked him if he wanted some and he laughed, saying, “I don’t think I’m going to be sad”. And he was right.
I’m the one who’s sad but a larger part of me is very proud of him. Lest not forget where we were this time last year, just turned 3 and his first morning at nursery. There were tears and the haunting question, “why are you leaving me with strangers?”…. Whilst he had met them briefly before, he was of course quite right, they were strangers to him. But very nice, CRB checked, appropriately qualified nursery staff. In the end he decided it was best if we just turned around and walked away from each other, and so I watched as he did just that. He wiped his tears and walked into nursery without a further glance. And the headmistress who had witnessed it all offered me a cup of tea!
So what has changed? How can he now skip happily into school every morning, full-dressed and breakfasted by 7.30am in his eagerness to get the day started. Yes we have discussed it ad infinitum, we have read books, bought uniform, done make believe, had the home visit and settling in periods. But the one secret weapon to his happiness and success is Bella!
Dear, sweet, six-year old Bella. Against all the odds she has brightened his every day. She helps me take him into class, plays with him at break time, sits where she can check on him at lunch, asks who his friends are and plays with them too. She has eased the transition enormously and says quite vocally seeing Big Son is the best bit of her day. The summer holidays were thwarted with meltdowns and fighting so this has come as an unexpected, but so very welcome, bonus.
Aged 5 weeks old we had a visit from our incredibly talented friend Tim Wheeler and he is the one fully responsible for the name Big Son. And now undoubtedly he has very big shoes to fill. Big Son certainly stands his full height and I need to remember success is always on the other side of fear.