Last week I sat in an overheated school gym straining to hear as a panel of Reception teachers told us what to expect when our children enter their classrooms next year. As I fanned myself with a sheaf of important pieces of paper relating to the beginning of son number two's education, I will admit to tuning out, after all I've been there, done that with number one so it's all old hat.
I watched the anxious first timers stick up their hands and ask endless questions about what their little darlings will get to eat for lunch, bizarre this obsession with food, no one seemed in the least bit bothered by what their children will be taught. I sat back, smug in the knowledge that my under indulged little son will eat anything put in front of him. Perhaps because I have never given him any choice in the matter, unlike number one who had a choice of freshly prepared feasts at every meal.
Sometimes I feel guilty that my middle boy's life seems to pass by in the slipstream of his older brother. While we worry and fuss over every little detail of the eldest's life, he just bombs about under the radar lighting up our lives with his jolly smile. My middle boy is the kindest, funniest, sweetest thing, but he never gets the credit he deserves as he is always following in the footsteps of his older brother, or helping us clean up after his younger brothers.
The thing is, while many would say that this is bad thing, and I am sure it has its downsides, he is probably my happiest child. He hates fuss and is a laid back, independent little soul. He can play for hours on his own, but knows how to elicit a cuddle if he needs one. He can be naughty and play us up, but mostly he is just a cheeky little monkey at the heart of our family.
Although I have been waiting for months to send him off to school, he is old for his year and quite disturbingly precocious, now that the time is almost nigh I will admit to the odd pang.
He has been at my side for so long, trotting along chattering away, helping entertain the babies, baking cakes, jumping on the trampoline, begging for a few more minutes of TV, warbling away the lyrics of 'There's nothing sweet about me', just bumbling along in his adorable way, that I now feel bereft at the idea of him being taken away for the best part of the day.
I missed my first son terribly when he went off to school and I still sometimes resent the hours stolen away by the National Curriculum, but I thought I would be glad to finally send number two off. I am not. I will miss my baby. I may not always recognise how precious he is, and for that I am sorry, but I do know what joy and fun he brings into my life, and how sad I will be when it is taken away for the whole of the school day.
I will miss him bubbling along in the background and I will miss his friendly little smile lighting up when I pop downstairs. Now school is almost here I don't want my baby to grow up so fast. I am surprised by the lump in my throat as I imagine him all togged out in his new uniform, but still I find the words blur before my eyes at the thought of it.