It’s folded neatly in a bag, a nice big sensible sort of a bag of the sort that school uniform kitter-outters provide, big and white and roomy. There’s a white PE kit with black plimsols, and a kit bag to keep it in, two grey pleated skirts, three polo shirts with the school crest, a nice fluffy warm school jumper (jumper not cardie so that eventually if it survives it can do for Pip too), socks, tights, school coat.
They’re waiting to be labelled, once I decide what sort of labels to get, and when they’re labelled they’ll go through the wash and be taken up and tucked into a new pile in Kitty’s drawer, that will from now on be her school uniform spot.
Kitty thinks it’s hugely exciting; she likes playing dress up in her uniform which I’m encouraging, if only to make sure that on PE days she comes home with everything roughly the right way round. She surprised her grandparents on FaceTime by jumping out every inch a little schoolgirl and if her Grandpa reads this before she gets the chance to do the same, he too will also be very surprised.
And truth be told, it is a little surprising. Well maybe not surprising exactly, but there is a little jolt the first time you see your eldest child dressed up for school. There’s a shop around here that does all of the uniform for the local schools (seriously, you go in and it’s laid out by school, it’s really funny) and so this week we took Kitty to get her kitted out, motivated in part by our up and coming adventures and reading far too many blog posts from parents who’ve trod this path before saying “I bought all the new uniform even before term had ended, I won’t be caught out again” or words to that effect. So along we went, gave the name of her school and a very nice man came back loaded with a big pile of everything, perfectly sized first time.
And in the shop it was fun, it was a sort of playing, trying things off and on to double check the size, laughing that even mumble mumble 30 years since I got my first uniform, it’s still made by Trutex, and H and I telling Kitty about our first uniforms. But when we got home, and she dressed up all over again, and we could really look at her, it was almost like seeing her past and future at once. On the one hand there was this tall, strong, usually fairly confident four year old, in size 7-8 clothes, looking every inch a school girl, suddenly so very grown up and ready for the moment when her story starts to grow branches away from the family tree; and on the other I could see my baby, the little things that usually we’re not looking for, the things that mark her out as a tall four year old and not an eight year old, in the curve of her cheek, the strands of blond hair curled and knotted around her fingers, and the emotions that run straight across her face, however much she might be trying to pull a fast one.
H looked up at me and I knew in one of those moments of parenting telepathy that he could see the same. And in that same moment I pulled Kitty in for a tight hug, with eyes only a little too bright and the breath caught in my chest.
Perhaps that’s why everyone says to have your child practice getting in and out of their PE kit. Perhaps it’s nothing to do with the children’s abilities to get their gym shorts on straight, and everything to do with practice for their parents. What do you think?
PS Much as I’d love to show you one of the many pictures we already have of Kitty in uniform, I feel that her school is her story not mine so I’m not going to be sharing them here. Family, if you want to see how cute she looks, give me a shout and I’ll send you an email x