You're a big girl now... Starting school

Posted Tuesday 18th September 2012   By Ericka Waller

So four got her school place. I am not sure how I feel about it. One minute I am all tearful, remembering the tiny bundle we drove very very (very) slowly home from hospital - the next I am like "YES, six hours of free childcare."

I love that she will be taught to read, but not the fact she will be judged on how easily she is learning to do so.

I hate that there is a top of the class and a bottom of the class and an "average". Up until now, there has been nothing average about that girl of mine.

When she first starts school, she will cling onto my hand and beg me to stay. Soon after, she won't want to hold my hand at all - and will never look over her shoulder as I walk away.

No one is going to tell me how much lunch she has eaten, or if she did a poo today. I won't be able to pick her up early because I missed her.

I will have to iron her name into the back of her cardigan, because she is going to be dressed the same as everyone else. My little four in a uniform, when currently she wears a bow-tie, green leotard and ballet cardigan when she goes out.

My little four - who still wets herself if she is shy or excited. Who picks up snails and asks if they are at home. Who knows all about "aminals". My little four who falls asleep with the same face on that she wore the magical day I met her.

Don't get me wrong. I do want her to grow, and I know there is joy to be had in having an older child. Watching her develop friendships and interests and after school hobbies. Talking to her about her day. Helping her with homework. Taking her shopping and out for tea and cake. Picking clothes and brushing hair. Parties and discos and dancing on ice.

It's just, when one stage of parenting ends, another starts, and the bit you just left behind becomes golden and faded. It loses all it's sharp edges, so all you remember are warm fuzzies.

Luckily I have twenty two months taking up where four left off.. starting the journey she just finished. Reminding me that actually, baby days are hard, hard work.

You don't sleep, you don't get time to eat. You never know where the remote control has been hidden. You go out with unidentifiable objects in your handbag and snot on your shoulder. Your conversation is focused on weaning and sleep training and safety catches.

Your arms ache from picking up, putting down, loading and unloading. You never finish a sentence, let alone a sandwich. You do not wee alone. You do not do anything alone. You sing and clap and coo and point and clean and wipe wipe wipe wipe wipe wipe wipe. Bums, noses, hands, tears, floors.

But somewhere in these crazy days, just when you think you can't take another second of not having a second to yourself, there is a moment, just one fleeting moment..

Today it was when twenty-three months saw that seven months had sneezed, so fetched kitchen roll and carefully wiped her nose for her.

Yesterday it was when I picked up seven months and she grabbed hold of my ears and pulled me towards her so she could give me a wet sloppy kiss.

The day before that it was when four told me that she managed to do the whole ballet class in time with the other children, even the arms bit which she normally does too slowly.

It is these moments I get up for, that I live for. It is these moments that make me dread the hands of time that chase me and my babies to that school gate - before any of us are ready.