Last year was the big “First Day”, the very first day of school ever ever ever for Kitty, and the very first day for us to re-enter academia on the other side of the fence as parents. It was a very friendly baptism of fire. Kitty stepped out and away from us as a family, and we got our heads around school runs, producing costumes at short notice, and the gauntlet of PTA cake sales. There was a lot that she loved about that year, and we’ve all made some wonderful friends, but for some very excellent reasons that are Kitty’s, and therefore not mine to share, we’ve done a bit of academic reshuffling and moved Kitty to the school where Elma is starting nursery.
Elma has been going to the parents and toddler group there for the last year and a bit and as that’s all set within the same early years department she knows her way around, and so many of the friends she plays with on her three mornings a week are friends she’s known from toddler group (and parents that we know) and for the last term her toddler group leader has been taking her down to nursery for a few minutes, just to have a little look around and say hi.
We had no worries about how she’d settle in and sure enough, on the first day she bounded in with the most enormous smiles, dancing around in her new slippers and rushing over to give a huge hug to her new teacher. It’s all lovely and familiar and if there’s anything that disappoints her it’s that she only does three days and she has to come home at lunchtime.
Yep, I’m the parent in the hall with the child who’s crying because it’s home time.
For Kitty it’s a new school, a new class and a new teacher. New everything.
She was excited right up until we reached her classroom door. She’d been up to visit the school both on a tour and just to hang out at the summer and winter fairs and we’d done everything we could to make it less daunting, but as she reached the doorway the enormity of what was coming suddenly hit her. Even last year, though she’d not been in the pre-school she knew two of the children in her class (one from her old nursery and one from spending vast amounts of time at the playpark in the winter), but this time she was going in alone.
There were no tears, no wailing, no pleading with us not to go, but she wrapped her arms around me as if she wished she could curl up in them and be carried back to babyhood and never need step out into the world. In that minute this new adventure was just too big and too daunting.
I am proud of her for so many reasons in the everyday, and there have been moments in the last year that made me almost well up with love of who she is and who she is becoming, but it would be hard to top watching her in that moment, She gathered all of her courage up, held it tight, and allowed me to unwrap her from my arms, and give her to her teacher.
We hoped, and tried to make ourselves know, that she was having a wonderful time, and sure enough when we went back to collect her there were big smiles and a firm thumbs up. She’s settled in beautifully; we’re a week in today and she has a couple of friends in her class, and another friend in a neighbouring class who she plays with every day, she’s gradually figuring out who everyone is, and she’s still more excited than you would think possible about her pack lunch. There’ve been a couple of days where she’s been exhausted, but in a sleepy thumbs up kind of way and she’s eating us out of house and home to keep up with all the running around she’s doing.
She started on Thursday and on Saturday morning she said “Mummy, I don’t really know what to do today because I just really like going to school!”
So far, so very very good.