Tonight, I’m a little bit more emotional than usual.
Tomorrow, my little Mini Me will be taking her first steps into the big bad world without Mammy or Daddy.
Now I am fully aware that starting Pre-school is not quite the same as starting School School, but for the first time ever, I can empathise with all of the “Starting school” parents. I can’t even begin to fathom how I’m going to feel this time next year when I’m packing her school bag for Baby infants.
It’s a typical last Sunday night in August. For 30 years, it’s been a dreaded Sunday night because it marks the first day back at school for this Teacher Mum. I never actually left the education system, so it’s routine by now. Every year, I insist on going out somewhere for the day. I refuse to cook dinner. I try to get an early night. But this year, it’s not about me. It’s about Mini-Me.
Her new outfit is perfectly pressed and hanging in the bedroom. I have everything that she needs laid out for the morning. The table is already set for breakfast. She’s been read a special storybook that Daddy found online about her first day at pre-school and has been tucked in to dream of fairies and muddy puddles.
And I’m trying not to think about the fact that tomorrow is yet another first in my baby’s life.
I’m leaving her to the same childcare place that she usually goes to, but she’s going into her Big Girl classroom. And she’s going to be going 5 days a week, instead of 2. It’s really no big change. She’s more than ready for it and she’s so excited about starting Naoínra that it’s quite contagious. It’s all good. She could be terrified and refusing to go, but she isn’t.
And I wonder if that is helping Mammy or making me feel worse.
As parents, we have to let our babies grow up. We mark every milestone. We remember every achievement. We let them go into the world, little by little, and just hope that what they receive from us at home is enough to arm them for what the world holds for them. Every little step is essential, and indeed we are very aware of how blessed we are that our mini-Me’s are healthy and able to step into the world. But it doesn’t mean we have to be absolutely happy about it, all the time!
As parents, we also have to trust…To trust the people who will be responsible for looking after our little darlings. We have to trust that their teachers will care for them; that they will be kind to them; that they will give their all to make them who they can be.
So while I feel that I need at least an hour with her new teacher tomorrow morning to go through a crash course, with power point presentation if I could, on what my Little Darling likes, what she’s afraid of, her habits, what upsets her, how she needs help with some things, how brilliant she is at other things and basically, everything about her, I know that I’ll drop her at the door with a smile, tell her to be a good girl and to have fun, and get into the car.
Then I’ll probably bawl my way to work.
But it’ll be fine, because I’ve realised that while I’m entrusting a teacher with the single most important thing in my world, I get to return the favour to other Starting-School Mums. Because for the first time, I truly understand the angst and terror of the Mammies and Daddies who drop their kiddies off at our school’s big blue door every September. I finally understand that I’m not just there to teach them English. I’m there to care for them; to be kind to them; and to give my all to help mould them into who they can be. And it’s the second best job in the world.
And while tomorrow she is only starting Pre-school, it is indeed a big deal for our little family and for my little Princess. Yes, it might be just another day, but it’s one that we’ll remember forever. Yes, it’s going to be emotional, but it’s good emotion.
And to all of the Mammies and Daddies whose little Darlings are taking their first steps into Pre-school, School School, Secondary School or indeed third level, I send all of my S-mum love and good wishes, because tomorrow is most likely going to be harder on you than it is on our kids.
So we’ll put on our big girl (or boy) pants and we’ll suck it up.
Because we are Starting School Mums (and Dads). 🙂
PS. This has been going around in my head all day.
Author: Elizabeth Shane
He’s gone to school, wee Hughie,
An’ him not four,
Sure I saw the fright was in him
When he left the door.
But he took a hand o’ Denny,
An’ a hand o’ Dan,
Wi’ Joe’s owld coat upon him –
Och the poor wee man!
He cut the quarest figure,
More stout not thin:
An’ trotting right and steady
Wi’ his toes turned in.
I watched him to the corner
O’ the big turf stack,
An’ the more his feet went forrit,
Still his head turned back.
I followed to the turnin’
When they passed it by,
God help him he was cryin’,
An’, maybe, so was I.
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