Tomorrow I’ll introduce you to my daughter and she’ll have her fingers in her mouth as she tries to take in the new situation around her. She’s really excited to start in your class and has been talking about going to big school for months now – I’m not sure she really understands what’s happening but I’m glad she’s looking forward to it.
It’s me that’s the problem – I look at her and I still see that little 6lbs baby that landed in my arms just over 4 years ago. Everything changed then and everything is changing again now.
Her joining your class means she isn’t that baby. It means she doesn’t entirely belong to us anymore and she is now part of an education system she’ll stay in for at least the next 14 years. It means that slightly wild and feral part of her that I love so much will be slightly dampened down. It means tests, standards, homework and exams will start to appear over the next few years. It means my crazy little wonder who constantly has mud on her face, scrapes on her knees and grass in her hair will probably become a little less wild.
How do I know she won’t get lost? How do I know she won’t disappear into the background in a large class setting? How do I know she’ll feel confident enough to tell you when she needs the toilet? How will you understand what she means when she uses her odd but cute little turns of phrase? How do I know this is going to be ok?
How do I know that this is the right thing and the right time for her?
How do I know she will be ok?
When she falls over (which she does a lot) how do I know someone will be there to pick her up? How do I know she’ll be a person to you and not a number? How do I know you’ll be able to notice if she’s struggling?
I’m so worried for her and I can’t show her any of this. Instead I laugh and smile with her while she gets so excited about leaving this stage of her life while inwardly my heart is breaking. I’m regretting every single moment I ever wished for a bit of time on my own. I’m regretting every time I counted down the minutes to bedtime. I’m regretting every time I said no to getting into her bed and cuddling her at 3am. I’m regretting not making the most of all that time with no expectations and the freedom we enjoyed to just go to the beach or woods without worry of attendance records.
I know it’ll be fine because it’s been fine for millions of children her age to start school for decades but this is a bit different because this time it’s our child.
So when I drop her off tomorrow and she takes you by the hand please could you let me know it’ll be ok? Let me know you’ll remember her name? Let me know that you’ll look out for her? Let me know that you’ll cuddle her when she needs it and reassure her when she is confused or scared?
Let me know you care. Please. Because to you she might just be part of your new intake for the year but to me she is the most precious, funny, mildly infuriating and annoyingly brilliant gift I’ve even been given. She is a gift I didn’t know I’d ever get to have and I’m so scared to let her go.
Tomorrow is a new chapter for all of us and we need you to teach us as well as her how to walk into this new challenge.