This week Kitty had her first settling in session at school. She was at nursery in the morning but when we picked her up after lunch she was fit to burst with excitement. With her whole pre-school year dipping in and out of nursery as they all try out their new schools in her mind she’s been longing and waiting to go for EVER, but it was finally her turn.
The school invited her to a Teddy Bear’s picnic for the afternoon and as we walked along the road she held Dully (her bunny) in one hand. To start off with we held Dully between us, swung her, told her about road safety (I suspect Warwick the Bear has been doing another round of the local preschools) but as we got nearer and nearer Dully was switched to the other side and a warm little hand held on to mine a little more tightly.
“Is Dully excited?” I asked.
“Yes! Very!” came the reply.
“Do you think she might be nervous too?”
“Maybe a little bit.”
“Are you going to help her make some teddy bear friends?”
“Yes, I think so.”
We stood at the school gate waiting for the teacher to come down and unlock, stood in a little circle of parents and grandparents chatting with a sort of nervous newness and rather quiet children holding very tightly to their teddies, while Kitty held even tighter to my hand. But the gate was unlocked and the door opened and I signed to say the school could have her and off she ran with barely a backwards glance.
H was working from home and as the youngest two were having a snooze I picked her up by myself. I was at least ten minutes early because after years of going almost everywhere with at least one child I have unrealistic expectations of how long it takes to go places, and when they were ready to come out she was lined up at the front, I could see her through the glass and she gave me a little wave before the door opened and she sprinted straight into my arms.
The next time she goes it will be September, and it will be for real.
And suddenly the momentousness of this change started to hit me. Most of the time I don’t think of Kitty as being little; she’s tall and she’s my eldest and with two little siblings that rather emphasises the older/taller/more mature side, but stood there with her hand in mine my tall strong confident little girl suddenly shrank in my mind and was my baby all over again and I wondered how I was going to let her go. She’s been in nursery since she was 10 months old because we both work, but she’s always been within the family more than she has been without, and now that will change.
I don’t know what she did for her hour at school. Not really. I know she got a name badge because she was still wearing it when we collected her and I heard about chocolate cupcakes “with flour on top”, a picnic blanket with Peppa Pig on that she didn’t sit on, and that they didn’t do any singing, but the rest is, and will remain a mystery. And that’s how it should be.
This is the first big milestone where her story will start to part ways with mine. I so hope that she loves school, that she makes friends, that it’s a place that will nurture and support her, and that there she will spend a good chunk of her childhood, but my ability to influence that is, quite rightly, limited. It is for her to forge her own path, as much as we provide the love and support behind.
I love that she had a great time, I loved walking home with her and spending even a smidgen of time one on one, and I really loved sneaking in a quick trip to the play park on the way home but when it comes to September I think I’ll be with Dully, equal parts nervous and excited.