What is it about school?

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Heading off into the world…

There was one moment when I just wanted to grab her hand and pull her back to me.

Unfortunately, that would be quite embarrassing to have the entire busload of kids laughing at the mom who couldn’t let go, so I backed off and moved back up the driveway so she could get on without a desperate mother clinging to her little hand.

What is it about school? Friends have told me and told me, “Oh, once they start school time just starts to fly, and they just move further and further away from you all the time.”

Good God, there is something really sad about that, until you realize in many ways they are just moving further and further away from you from the moment they are born, from the minute they eat their first solid food, the second they take their first steps. Is that sad or is that joyous? I feel a bit of both. It is the ultimate in bittersweet, really. I rejoice in every first in my babies’ lives, and yet I feel a twinge of sadness. Last week I finally hauled all of the baby gear and sweet wee clothes out of every closet and from beneath every bed and got rid of all of it. Other babies are using it all now. This was due in no small part to the fact my youngest child was about to start kindergarten and is clearly far from being a baby anymore. But it still hurt.

It is a letting go like nothing else I have experienced in my life. I am no longer a parent to babies, or toddlers, or even pre-schoolers. I am out of that club. I can offer wise words as someone who has been there, but a new parent would probably think to themselves, “Oh, she is not HERE where I am, so she does not KNOW.”

So here I am with two schoolgirls. I am the lunch maker, the form-signer, the one who tries every afternoon, like a dentist trying to pull teeth, to extract some meagre nugget of information from our children about their day at school. After years of spending most hours of the day with her, it is hard, really hard, to be relegated to this seemingly secondary role. Yikes, could I be taking it personally? Yes, other than sleep time, a teacher now spends more hours a day with my child than I do. Who knew that could be so tough to swallow? Even when the teacher is wonderful and caring, it still burns.

When our kindergartener comes home from school, she is exhausted and exuberant and bursting with all the new experiences. I try to see it all through her eyes, all the glittering freshness of being out in the world on your own for the first time. Every thing we take for granted, it’s pretty darn thrilling to her, bus rides, lunch kits, recess, a whole class full of other children who she just knows will be her best friends.

I smile and I enjoy the moments when she bursts out with some little story about her day. I look into her eyes and I see the baby that she was just a short while ago, the way she used to look at me when she was tiny and her parents were the centre of the universe. And I see that we are still her centre. Her universe just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

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6 responses »

  1. You have an amazing talent with expressing yourself with words ….that are only too true, especially to someone that has experienced it and is now watching their grandchildren go thru it….it is all amazing(our children growing up) when we sit back and really think about it….enjoy,because sorry to say it really does go by fast….

  2. Amazing post Steph. You are so clever when it comes to putting things into words. I too know how you feel although I still have one at home with me. I found it terrible with Aiden started school. He was so excited and keen but then wanted me to stay with him that first day and I would have loved to do nothing more. I miss the time we had together but watching them experience new things is great too. My baby turns 2 next week which means she moves out of the baby room at daycare. I guess that means I have to accept I don’t have a baby any longer, although she hasn’t been a baby for ages now. It makes me sad and excited all at the same time. I love watching them grow up so much and yet a small part of me wishes they would stay small forever.

    • Thank you, Alison! It is so true, at 2 they are really at a crossroads! Miss Independence but yet you still think of her as a babe. Treasure it while it lasts ( I say like an old pro: )

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