Yesterday, we got the letter asking us to register Littlest for school in September.
How can that be? It was a heartbeat ago that she was in my arms, just a breath since the letter came for her brother.
It is strange – Preschool seemed to stretch out for him, to take forever and yet somehow be over in a flash. The time was filled with uncertainty, with assessments, and EHCP meetings and SLT and OT. Some parts were oh-so-bitter – the rock in my stomach reminding me of all the ways this was different for the other four year-olds. There was an urgency, a panic and a reluctance all at once. The support had to be in place before he started. We had to choose the correct school. We had to make sure we got it right. So much – so much – depended on it.
This time around, things are different…and the same. There are no assessments, no decisions to make about where, how. No hours to secure or extra transitions to put in place. Just one little form to fill in. Just one school to put down. Just the wait to hear, with no real doubt as to the outcome. And yet…
It is so strange, how watching them grow is so painful, and so joyful at the same time, isn’t it?
My girl has grown up so much in the last few months. She is tall. She comes out with the strangest things and tells me to “keep my hair on” when I call her to breakfast for the third time. Her hair is wild, unkempt, but it is longer. It curls around her face and her dark eyes; she does not look like a baby any more.
She is desperate to start school. She sees her brother and the other children when we drop him off and she wants to join in. She can write her name – all of it, from memory, one letter after the other with the tail of the ‘e’ a little mishapen, added on at the end. When she brought the page and showed me, I was amazed. I pushed away the strange little flicker in my chest that reminded me her brother only managed this a few months ago, and I gushed with praise.
She makes friends easily. She rushes through the door, home from preschool, and retells the adventures she has had, animatedly, with the names of other children dotted through her narrative like bright gems. She is ready for school. I cannot wait to learn as she learns, to see how far her adventures take her further, to watch her horizons widen, stretching into the unknown.
This time, there is no rush. I had not been thinking about the letter when it made a soft thump, landing through the letterbox. When I read it, there was no sense of panic about time running out – but it hit my chest like a belly-flop, all the same.
In ten months, my Littlest, my last, will go to school. I will give up a little piece of her. I will hand over that little slither of independence and she will need me less. With every year that passes, I will relenquish a little slither more, until she is entirely her own, until she is not a child any more.There is nothing to stem the grief of them growing, nothing to stop the bittersweet intertwining of joy and sadness.
I am desperate to find out who she will be, but reluctant to part with who she is. When the school letter comes it hits home just a little more, for a little while.
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