The bell rang for the last shrill ring of the summer. For the last time the door opened, for the last time Kitty pointed for her teacher to show she’d seen up, and for the last time she walked out of her Reception classroom and over to where we stood, a little girl laden down with bags of bits and bobs of stories and paintings and the ever-present junk modelling, a spare jumper’s sleeves waving to us from underneath the flap of her satchel.
In a year so much has changed; that little girl that sprinted out on her first day, walked tired now, we’ve some very purple Minion glasses now, and she’s taller too, even her age 9 school summer dress starting to look a little bit on the short side, and a second pair of school shoes clocking in at size 13.5 and proving, if ever there were doubt, that my eldest daughter has my height, and some to spare. There is a confidence in her, that by the end of term had rather turned into world weariness, my poor tired little love, that can only come from spending time away from the family; taking that first really big step away from us and starting to find her me. She is resilient, she knows her own mind, and yet her report spoke of a little girl who makes good friends and who is well liked and kind, a report that made me as proud as any mother could be.
The faces at the school gate now are old friends; the mums and dads we chat with, and hide under the trees with when it rains, and the little brothers and sisters that chase around with Pip and Elma with squeals of joy only equalled by the return of their big siblings.
And yet it felt the same. On Kitty’s first day I wrote about the feeling of being welcomed even deeper into our community, of adding in that extra layer of village life, and that feeling has been the constant thread throughout our first year as a school family. We have made friends, and we have made good friends, the sort who reassure you that none of the children are very good at coping with the first week of the holidays, or remind you of the homework, or the dress up theme, or what extraordinary item they’re supposed to be bringing to school first thing tomorrow morning. It’s a learning curve to be parents of a schoolchild, even if a rather shallower one than being the child yourself, and we’ve had a wonderful group, a few of whom have trodden the path before, to support and guide each other and without that lovely group it would have been a very different first year.
And so we finished as we started. In spirit if perhaps not quite in location, because it turns out that the end of term tradition is that everyone goes to the pub. A quick stop home to drop off the school bags, to take some last day photos, and for Kitty to get changed, and we were sat in the pub garden, in blazing sunshine, sipping on something very nice and cold, chatting with the other parents and watching as our children scampered off to blend into the melee.
Kitty had almost all of her class there and she ran and climbed with them, and came back for a slug of lemonade, before sitting in rapt adoration before a schoolmate’s baby sister (and very adorable the baby is too). Elma followed where Kitty led, just happy to be considered one of the girls, and suitably thrilled when we abandoned all hopes of going home and making supper in favour of a sausage hot dog from the pub BBQ (full marks for putting on an end of term party). And my Pip Squeak? Well half the time he could usually be found somewhere along the cargo net, ably petted and assisted by some of the girls from Kitty’s class who think he’s rather cute, and the rest of the time he found himself a small cohort of seven or eight year old boys who took great delight in putting a football in front of him, encouraging him to kick it, and then chasing after it and bringing it back to repeat all over again. That’s just about the best thing that could ever ever happen in Pip’s world, and as a plus it did leave me nicely free to chat and enjoy a blissfully cold cider.
The party went on long into the evening. Early flaggers were tucked into buggys, or taken home while their big sisters stayed to play longer, and by the time they got home I think it may have been the girls latest bedtime ever ever.
But it was worth it. The perfect way to finish our very first year.
Kitty, on her last day of school; and just for comparison, Kitty on her first:
Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments