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…

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13 thoughts on “Countdown to the first day at school

  1. Sarah Knight says:

    Totally totally get it – I posted similar on a forum yesterday – we’re doing the school shoe thing today 😦

  2. Bernie says:

    I’m facing a double-whammy on her first day of school as N is 50 that day as well and is heading for his mid-life crisis!

  3. Melanie Barrett says:

    Been there and done it now and I promise it isnt all that bad! It is a real milestone for us mothers saying good bye to our babies on their first day at school but a well done for all of us who have managed to get so far! It will be emotional but for all the right reasons. A year on and I will be saying goodbye to my two as they start Year 1 and I just dont know where their first year at school has gone. As they say, once they start school, the years just seem to fly and I can say that this year has flown past with lots of lovely and very funny memories. Good luck to all you parents sending off your babies on their first day at school. It will be a day you will always remember and no doubt remind them when they are older! x

  4. Oh dear, I seem to have something in my eye too *sniff*
    One of mine starts ‘big school’ in September too and even though I have been there, done that with her older brother and sister before – it doesn’t make it any easier. It is such a HUGE step x

  5. I am feeling a little the same, well I was a month or so ago, but she is desperate to go and I’m starting to feel desperate lol.

    I have all the labels in and ironed, I bought iron in ones! Am yet to get the shoes for fear she will grow out of them by the time she starts!

    My DD starts 9.15 her first day but then 8.30 the next as normal and for the 1st week we can collect them at 2.30 but then the week after it’s all as normal! She’s going to be so TIRED!

  6. SewBertie says:

    I love your blog, your insights into life as a working mum always tally with my brief observations.
    Children are little for such a brief moment but when you are stuck In the day to day routine it’s hard to realise how precious those times are.

  7. R2 says:

    I’m glad Mamma Mia wasn’t out when my daughter started school as I would have cried too at those lyrics and hadn’t heard them before!

    I know your daughter will have a great time at school, especially since she’s so ready. The teachers WILL nurture her and understand her; she WILL make friends and she WILL be happy. That confidence and excitement that she has will shine on and on and grow and she will develop very quickly into an independent little girl who will be very proud to show you the next stage of her life in her work and her classroom.

    Remember that there will be tissues on hand and shoulders to cry on (I’ll reserve a place with your name on it on my right shoulder) and that you will make friends too.

    And before you know it, she’ll be going in to year 1!

  8. I blogged about my little girl starting school only the other day here:

    http://thefivefsblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/first-lasts-and-last-firsts.html

    Mine is only a month older than your little girl and like yours, is more than ready for school.

    As you will see, mine is a different take on it. I may feel emotional about it but I am excited for her and what a journey she is about to embark on. She is my youngest too so this is the last time we will do this but because her brother did it so recently, its all fresh in the memory. He was just the same and he sailed through it – and because he did, so did we.

    I got lucky with school shoes. Missy’s came from Tesco in the end having got her feet measured. Got her brother’s done yesterday on the off chance – waited 5 mins, got feet measured, asked for a particular style of shoe, they had it in his size, he tried them on, they fitted, I paid. Must have got it done in 15 mins. I was beside myself with joy. 😀

  9. Natalie says:

    Have just struggled, bargained and negotiated my DD into bed. She is completely exhausted from a lovely weekend away and consequently unable to act on any simple instruction without rebelling with all her might. She truly believes she is always right, never tired and her desperate desire to be independent breaks my heart every time. One half of me bursts with pride at this feisty, wee lady ready to take on the world and the other part of me aches so badly at the thought of letting the world in that it is almost too much to bear. She is still my baby. All the strength of spirit and beauty of innocence that she displays reassure me that she will be fine and then she loses a particuar toy that cost 50p from the corner shop and it is as if her world has ended. Those are the moments when only mummy understands and only mummy can fix it, however that may be. And when she catapults herself off her scooter and ‘does bleeding’ only mummy can find the exact plaster required and the ‘special invisible cream’. How will she cope when she does not understand at school? How on earth will I ever get to spend any time with the delight that is my well rested DD instead of the demon that is the exhausted version? And a small piece of me doesnt really want her to know that her knee bleeds rather than ‘does bleeding’ or that she is never ‘boring’ but that the word she seeks is ‘bored’. But she must, she will and it will be fine I know. But, for crying out loud (literally as I write this…..), no one ever told me it would be THIS hard! xxxxxxxx

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