Last night I, like so many other parents, felt anxious about what the morning would bring…the result of our primary school application for Eli.
On the one hand I was feeling pretty confident. Meg was already in our first choice school and siblings often come high up on the list when allocating school places. But on the other, as the date got closer and closer, little niggles started in my mind. What would I do if he didn’t get a place? Would we have to move them both? And so on.
I woke at midnight when my phone went crazy with tweets and checked the results, relieved to see that he had been given a place at our first choice school. I know that for a number of parents this wasn’t the case and I know how hard that would have been. It was the very thing I was so concerned about for us.
Mixed in with all the relief was a huge dose of sadness that Eli really is almost going off to big school. With Meg she just seemed so ready. I don’t know whether that’s because our home situation was different; I was working and she was in private nursery more than she was at home with me or simply a personality thing: she took to school like a duck to water and has never looked back.
In my head, I get that it is still a good 4 and bit months away and a lot can change in a short time but I just can’t picture Eli at school. There are so many things I worry about for him: that he prefers his own company and will struggle to make friends, that he will try and play with Meg and she won’t let him, that I won’t be able to wrestle him into a shirt and tie, that he’s such an active little boy they won’t meet his needs at school properly, that they won’t see all the wonderful things which make Eli tick. I don’t remember having these worries for Meg.
Is it because he is my baby or because he is less sure of himself than Meg? Even now I know that she can walk into a room of total strangers and make a friend. This morning Eli put himself in the cupboard at playgroup just to get away from the smaller children.
You think having done this once before I’d be an old hand. One of the reasons I love this blog is because I was able to look back and see that actually, Meg did have some wobbles initially but that she soon overcame them. This gives me hope that actually it will all be okay, in the end.
This is a stage that he has to take and as a parent all I can do is prepare him in the best way I can and then hope and pray that it will be alright. Maybe he will flourish, maybe he will struggle but as with all the other challenges and stages we have faced, I know that all we can do is support him as he takes his next step into the world.
I think to myself, ‘what would I tell another parent going through this for the first time?’ and I know I would offer reassurances, that it isn’t as scary as we imagine and that although you feel sad that first day as you watch your little person skip or run off into reception it soon gets so much easier. I know all of this and yet…and yet.
There are so many dreams I have, for both Meg and Eli, and I want nothing but the best for them both. To see them achieve the things I never did, to have the freedom to be themselves, to soar. This is just the start of the journey for Eli and whilst I believe in my heart that whatever happens he will be fine, I can’t quite dampen the squeeze of panic which shoots across my chest every now and then as I think about him taking this first foray into school life.
Big school…for my not so big boy.