“treasure these moments, time goes so quickly”, “they don’t stay tiny for long” “before you know it, they’ll be heading off to school”.
Today is our son’s 5th birthday and when we were told all these things 5 years ago, quite honestly, I didn’t believe them. To be frank, those first few months felt like an endless, sleep-deprived fog, and often I couldn’t imagine getting to the next week let alone the next year or the so-far-away-it’ll-never-happen first day of school. yet, it’s September 2019 and we’ve done it. We’ve all survived the first fortnight of school.
We always knew it was going to happen. Since the day he was born, we knew in the back of our minds that September 2019 would be the month and year he would become a school boy and yet, it totally took us by surprise. Looking back, all those cliches are absolutely right. Where did those years ago, and can we have (some of) them back please?
He was so excited about starting school and so proud to get dressed in his uniform on his first day. His coming down the stairs having got dressed all by himself took my breath away and I had to deal with that bit of dust that suddenly appeared in my eye. He looked so big, grown up and confident. Where was that tiny helpless bundle of 5 years previous?
He didn’t look quite so big as we arrived at the school gates and saw all those huge, confident older kids, many of whom were wearing uniform that actually fitted them. As we’d both taken a day off to be able to take him and meet him on his first day, we decided to take our minds off it by enjoying the luxury of a grown up brunch, but all we did was wonder about what he was up to every second of the day and jumped out of our skins when the phone rang. We find ourselves in that same position that every parent experiences, realising that we’ve got to let something go. There won’t be a member of staff filling us in on every detail of his day as there was at nursery. It’s up to him to tell us the details he wants us to know and, to be fair, over the days he has provided a reasonable amount of information. I’m still totally at a loss to know what he does at playtime, how much lunch he eats, whether or not he drinks anything in the day (I suspect not!), who he talks to (oh I really hope he talks to someone!).
Up until now, we’ve experienced all his milestones – first food, first steps, first words, first independent swim, first day at school – but it’s suddenly becoming glaringly obvious that from now on, he’s taking steps to independence. We won’t necessarily be there to see them all.
It’s Freshers’ Week in Exeter this week and for many years now, I’ve always associated myself with the students and thought back to my first days at university. This year it’s different. I imagine the parents and wonder how they are coping. It’s hard to see your little one off through the school gates on day 1 knowing that you’ll see them again in a few hours. What’s it like to see your not-so-little-one disappear off to a strange new city, knowing that you might not see them til the end of term? It seems so far off and yet….
Hold on to the memories because the years pass by in a flash.