As we slowly muddle through our eighth and final week of summer holidays it’s safe to say that my big girl and I have just about had enough of one another’s company. Still lots of cuddles and laughs and nice moments, but there is an overall feeling of rubbing each other the wrong way. Sharp words and clipped tones, pushing each other’s buttons.
I’ve been so looking forward to her starting school next week – big school, long days, school uniform. Plus her Grandparents are arriving that night, so it’s been a day we’re all looking forward to. I’ve been that focused on it as an end point, or a starting point, that I’ve given little thought to what it actually means. My little girl, my big girl, starting school. It’s a process that, now it’s begun, can’t be undone. The days and weeks and years will pass, and she will grow and learn and change. And she will experience so much, without me. Which is scary!
Life is full of these milestones, and at the end of it it’s these milestones that form your memories and shape your identity. I hope we’re doing the right thing by her. Montessori school, life in Hong Kong, having a helper, new siblings arriving. All milestones that will shape the person she becomes and a totally different childhood to the one I had (yet with some striking similarities). I wonder how she’ll reflect on her life, on these early years. I know she won’t remember the times I snapped at her (or maybe she will recall them fondly, as we do with our own Mum) but I hope the other times, the happy times, add up to happy memories.
I have so many fears for her – I hope she likes her teachers, I hope she makes friends. I hope her bossiness and dominance don’t ostracise her. I hope she finds someone who understands her, like I understand her.
And I know, equally, she has to forge her own path. She will make mistakes, and she will rub people the wrong way at times, and people will hurt her feelings and she will cry. And I can only be here for her at the end of the day with open arms and ears and always a heart full of love. There’s only so much I can protect her, and that’s okay.
This morning I was reminded of the little girl I used to nanny, Olivia – I started working with her on her first day of Kindergarten. She was so little, and so similar to my Heike in so many ways. A tree climber, a nature lover, interested in science with an inquisitive mind and not afraid to play with the boys. Usually playing some kind of imaginative game with a like minded little boy, and not My Little Pony and friendship bracelets with the girls. Her Mum told me they attended her high school orientation this week. Time is cruel – there isn’t enough of it.
So this week I am reminded to watch my tongue, to pay attention, to read a few extra stories at bed time and to make the most of those short twenty minutes at night when it’s just she and I, and she wants a cuddle and to talk about her day, her friends, her birthday. Because before I know it she will be twelve and no longer interested. And I know I will look back on this time with a tear in my eye and an ache in my heart.
Thoughts with all the Mums who have kids starting school this Autumn… Also – woohoo, they’re going back to school!