Saturday, 18 July 2015

Saying goodbye to primary school

As usual it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. It seems that while the early years of babies
and toddlers are rich in anecdote, as children grow up they become less ripe picking grounds for funny stories.

But one thing I have noticed, that appears to be a constant with children, is the aching wrench I feel when we reach a period of transition – at least with my firstborn.

I can still remember driving away from his first nursery, my eyes blurred with tears as I sobbed, filled with nostalgia. I remembered his first day when he clung to me as the nursery staff attempted to interest him in water play or the sandpit, but all he wanted was mummy.

I remember his best girlfriend with whom he would share the rich pickings of the dressing up box. I still have a picture of him holding hands with her, resplendent in a beautiful fairy dress (him, not her). We still see this precious friend, but she too has long outgrown dressing up and is fast becoming a beautiful and clever young woman.

You see almost a decade separates these pictures of my blonde haired, blue eyed, pink and squidgy toddler from the boy who is my son now. Rather than leaving nursery he is on the brink of leaving primary school, and like generations of mothers before I wonder ‘Where did that time go?’

What was I doing that the years have whizzed past like the blur seen from the window of a speeding car? Was it really not yesterday that I had to pluck him from neighbours’ driveways as he dashed into explore their front gardens on our walk up to the shops? Since he perched on top of the bump that would become his baby brother?

How is it that the memory of walking up to school, his sticky little hand in mine, his head not even reaching as far as my hip, begging to stop every five minutes to look at some fascinating piece of debris on the street seems as fresh as the Year 6 Leavers Disco that happened just yesterday.

It is a piercing pain, the ache of nostalgia. Most of the time we just carry on, living life, doing the shopping, the school run, nagging about homework and hardly stopping to drink a moment of it in, but sometimes life stops us in our tracks and forces us to see how fast our children are becoming adults, how little time is really spent enmeshed in the experience of childhood.

As you will have gathered my firstborn is just about to leave primary school and everyday activities have taken on a sharp poignancy in the face of this step. He has come home with a bag stuffed full of schoolbooks that will never be written in again, he has acted in his last play, danced the Macarena at his last disco, had photos taken with friends who may or may not last the distance once they no longer spend every school day together.

Next week we will do our last school run with him and eventually close the door on his first school forever.

I feel the tears begin to flow as I write of these final moments. It has been such a journey for both of us, from him clinging to me outside the Reception classroom, in tears because he so hated to leave mummy, to the tears shed at the end of every year as he would miss the teachers he had come to love.

There have been school trips that have taken him away from home for the first time, tests and exams that have begun to set him on the path towards his future, friendships forged through shared experiences. I have made friends amongst the mothers of his contemporaries and will miss their smiling faces at the school gate.

There have been ups of great achievements, and downs when friendships have gone sour or mistakes have been made. It has not been a perfect experience, but it has irrevocably changed both our lives, and for the most part for the better.

I try to feel happy that my precious boy has had such a positive experience during his early school years, but I am just so sad to say goodbye to them. I think it is all part of not wanting to see him grow up and inevitably grow away from me.

In my head I know he needs to learn to become independent, but in my heart I long for the little boy who clung to me for security. It’s the classic dilemma for any mother – do I let go and let him grow or do I cling on because the letting go just hurts so damn much?

Of course I know the answer and, as I bought him his first blazer for big school, I felt my heart swell with pride as I caught a glimpse of the gorgeous young man he is fast becoming. I know he needs to leave behind the beginning of his childhood and move on to discovering who he will be as an adult, but as a mummy I know sometimes I miss my little boy so very much.

So next week when the door finally closes on primary school forever, I shall equip myself with hankies, a phone with plenty of memory free for pictures and I will make that last walk, holding my little boy’s hand as we exit the gates of primary school together for the very last time.  

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