In a little over 36 hours, Flea’s time at primary school will be over.
Judging by the tearful child I put to bed this evening, I’m not the only one surprised by the speed with which this has come around.
On the one hand, Flea’s excited. She’s going to a great school, she’s growing up. It’s good.
But leaving behind the security of a school she’s attended since a few weeks after her third birthday? That’s a scary proposition.
She’s leaving behind a really solid group of friends (aka The Awesome Foursome) who have made her primary school experience such a happy one.
And it’s raced by. The time between the photos below being taken and today? WOW, that was fast.
Tonight was one of those moments you dread as a parent.
The ones where you’ve got…. nothing. To see your child upset, and know you can’t fix it – well, I can’t be the only one who struggles with that, can I?
“It happens to everyone and it’s natural to feel sad, even though you’re excited, too,” I told her. “When you move on, the trick is to keep the very best stuff with you, and try to appreciate that you have these great memories of the things you need to leave behind.”
I’m not sure how well that advice worked, since it just made her cry a bit more. Truth be told, we’re both having mixed feelings.
After a decade of parenting, here’s what I’ve learned:
Your child growing up is the single best thing in the world. Your heart will practically burst out of your chest with pride as you watch them learning new things, making friends, becoming their own people and enjoying everything the world has to offer.
You’ll love being a part of that journey. You won’t want it to stop; far from it. But you’ll want it to go on forever.
Being a parent means it’s entirely possible for half of your heart to be thrilled by the ten year old they are today while missing the nine-year-old they were yesterday. For every fantastic moment in the present or future, there’s an equally lovely moment in the past you’ll never get to revisit.
So yeah, I can empathise with Flea at the moment. Maybe a little too much.
The world feels off-kilter at the moment. Wider events are making the grown up world feel a bit ominous these days, and I have an urge to retreat into familiar places and faces. I’m excited for Flea’s future, while feeling nostalgic for a present that we haven’t left behind quite yet.
Deep breath time. I know it’s something we all go through. And this is an important skill for Flea to learn – how to adapt to change, to make new friends, while cherishing the old ones. Better learned now than later. I have made the right decision. I think. I’m confident she will settle into her new school well, when the time comes. She’s going to have a fantastic time.
In the meantime, I want to do what I can to make the transition a little easier. Arranging definite dates to see friends. Planning holidays and family activities to keep her occupied. Helping her to look forward rather than back. But, oh, it’s hard to see something painful coming and know you can’t swerve.