Countdown to the first day at school

Last week I took DD to Clarks to buy her first pair of school shoes. There was a big queue already at 10am, and only three styles left in her size (9! and she’s been wearing 8s all summer! Her little feet squished like a geisha!). Anyway, she was delighted to be able to choose a pair of actually quite nice black shoes – much prettier than anything I ever wore to school in ‘God Days’ (DH’s expression for things that happened a loooong time ago). She’s been showing them off to all and sundry.

And it is breaking my heart. How can my BABY GIRL be going to school? She was only four on the first of August, for goodness’ sake. And while we’re at it, how can she even be four years old? It’s such a cliche about them not being babies for long, but oh, how true it is.

She’s ready, despite being one of the younger ones, and is clearly getting a bit bored of pre-school already. She can write her name now, after lots of determined practice (by herself – I have had very, very little to do with her ‘education’ thus far), and plays ‘schools’ a lot. It’s me that’s not ready.

Her three blue gingham school dresses, two grey pleated skirts, five pale blue polo shirts with the school badge on, two blue cardies, ten pairs of white socks, and t-shirt, shorts and plimsolls for PE, are all ready, laundered and pressed in her wardrobe.

I have a packet of proper sew-on name tapes with her name in pink. I have not yet cut these with pinking shears and sewed them on, because I am in denial that she is actually going to be at school on 6 September and is growing up.

I can’t even watch her favourite DVD, Mamma Mia, with her any more because every time Meryl starts crooning ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ I start blubbing.

What am I concerned about? That she will find good friends from nice families. That she will be understood and cherished by her teachers. That she will love school, and love learning. That she will be happy. That it’s the beginning of the end of my time as the number one influence on her view of the world. That although she’s ready intellectually, she probably isn’t emotionally, and does tend to burst into tears if she feels wrongfooted or misunderstood.

Everyone whose precious, perfect first baby is about to start school no doubt feels the same way. Probably groundlessly. And I’m sure I won’t be the only one driving home in tears after dropping her off on her first day (well, not so much an actual day, as she has a week of 9am-11am).

Anyway, here are those Abba lyrics so all of you about to embark on the next stage of the incredible journey of parenthood can get all emotional too:

‘Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I’m losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time’

Oh dear, I appear to have something in my eye…