Don't grow up too fast my girl

Posted Monday 21st September 2015   By Ericka Waller

So Thing-one started Juniors this week. Last term her and her mates were the top dogs in the playground, now they are the youngest again. As the eldest class in the infants, she was an ‘influence’ on the others. The younger kids looked up to her. If they were impressed by her and wanted to copy, they would do nothing more daring than skip about with a bit of tin-foil from their sandwich trying to find the perfect place to make a fairy-pond. But now she is in the older half of the school, ‘the dark side’. I don’t know if they still believe in fairies over there. I have a sinking feeling they believe in clothes and hair and Bratz dolls instead.

Once my girl steps out her hula-hoop of innocent oblivion, where looks don’t matter and no-one is better or smarter or prettier than anyone else, she can never step back in it.

I know I have no control over these things, but when I was seven-years-old, I sat on tree-stumps, digging for woodlice and made dens with my friends down Daffodil slope. It was magical. Can it still be this way for her in this world of iPads and Netflix?

She’ll probably come home today wanting her ears pierced. I already had to buy her a Smiggle pencil case ‘because all her friends had one‘. In my day, a pencil case had a zip and held pencils. Not anymore. This one has buttons, secret compartments,  magnets and cost a bloody fortune. I’ve told her it will have to see her out, I’m not buying another one (I’m buying another two, because both her younger sisters want one).

Her moving to the ‘other’ playground means that Thing-two is now on her own at lunchtime break. I used to see her and her big sister sitting on the curb together when I picked up Thing-three from pre-school. What if when I go today, Thing-two is sitting alone?

It’s a hard thing, this mothering, what with your heart forever walking round outside your body and your pelvic floor hanging out your pants. Much like my girl and her hula hoop of innocence, from the second I conceived, I grew a pudgy ring of anxiety and self-doubt around my waist. I can’t ever lose it. It sags over my waistband, a constant reminder, a beast of burden.

The summer seemed to fly by. There were parts of it where I would happily have sent them back to school early just to get a break, but now they are gone and we can’t lie in bed drinking tea, or go down the beach at 8pm to eat salty chips and search for heart-shaped pebbles, I want them back.

Instead it’s back to standing by the school gates, stressed out by the school run, a packet of Oreos in one hand, the other free to hold coats and bags and still-wet paintings. Back to chiding and chasing and charging round the house at 8am screaming ‘WE ARE LATE!’

Bugger, that reminds me, I’ve not thought of what to cook them for dinner.

Here are some photos of our beautiful summer:

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