I’ve been here once before. Only this time it feels different. There’s a hint of familiarity. A sense of nostalgia maybe. But when I think back to the first time I stepped over this threshold holding your big brother’s hand, you were just a baby in my arms. And now look at you. The all to familiar uniform that your brother has worn for the last 4 years looks out of place on you. This is the last first day of school.
I remember feeling emotional on your brothers first day. Time had gone so fast. But with you it’s gone even faster. It was this time of year that we told friends and family that we were expecting you. And from the moment you made your pretty quick entrance into the world, time has been relentless with it’s speed.
There was a time when we didn’t know if you would go to a mainstream school. There were long waits for consultants appointments and words that seemed big and scary about your lack of communication. But all the worrying and “what ifs” seem like a long time ago now, because you have come so far. And I just know that you are going to be fine. Maybe you will need an extra helping hand along the way, maybe you won’t. I know the path won’t be smooth. There will be bumps and stumbles. But I really do believe that you are going to be brilliant.
The familiarity of being here before gives me some comfort in knowing that you will be well looked after. I know the day to day routine. I know where to find things and what days the important letters come home, the structure of the school year. And I am safe in the knowledge that your teacher is amazing and you are going to love her, as she will you.
But the familiarity also gives me a knowledge that I didn’t possess the first time I was here. And it’s the knowledge that brings a lump to my throat, and tears to my eyes.
This time round I know how limited our time will be. By the time you get home and homework is done, dinner has been eaten, and you’ve had a bit of down time, the day will be drawing to a close. Our seemingly endless days together reduced to a few hectic hours.
I know that you will come home tired and grumpy and I will bare the brunt of your bad mood. And whilst I don’t always do it graciously, I will try to understand and help you through it.
I know that you will have to navigate new waters when it comes to friendships and there will sometimes be tears and new feelings that I can’t make better with kiss and a cuddle.
Gone are the days when we will be your main influencers and source of guidance. I already know the challenges I will face in getting you to believe me over one of your peers. The arguments I’ve had with your brother over the last four years over something his friends have told him. There was the time he believed Asthma wasn’t a real thing, or that Donald Trump was coming to England to take over and destroy us all. Or the time he believed an actor from a program on Nickelodeon was coming to our house.
I will become the barer of news you won’t want to hear, and the enforcer of homework you won’t want to do.
And I know I will watch with awe as you grow and develop your own opinions and learn how to assert them. I will glow with pride ans you learn to read and write. But I will also feel sad, because I know bedtime stories have a time limit. Your big brother announcing to us recently that he now prefers to read by himself before bed, rather than us reading to him.
It’s all part of the natural order of growing up. You becoming more independent. Needing us less. No longer holding my hand on the walk to school. Preferring to run around with your friends in the playground rather than stay by my side. The day will come when you tell me you don’t need me to come into your classroom in the mornings any more. You can do it by yourself. And knowing you, knowing how independent and fearless you are, I just know those days are going to come even faster.
You, my baby. My last baby. Starting school. Starting a big adventure without me. I won’t be there to see you giggle, or make it better if you cry. I will maybe hear about it later, after the moment. The details missed out or skewed.
I close my eyes and picture you running out of pre-school, your arms outstretched, a huge grin on your face and shouting “Muuuummmmmyyyyyy” as fling yourself at me. And I try so hard to hold onto that picture and remember it always. Because before I know it you will be too cool for public hugs. Although personally, I already think you’re pretty cool.
I know that there are great things to come. This is all merely change. Change which we will roll with and adapt to. Pretty soon having two kids in school will be our new normal. Although I think I will need a bigger calendar.
But right now I will weep. I will weep because my baby boy is starting school, and for the first time in nearly nine years I will no longer have a shadow by my side.
The last first day of school.
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