A year of going in for two afternoons, meeting your friends and holding my hand so tightly.
You’d rush in, put your things where they went and play, flashing those big brown eyes in my direction before giving yourself over to the toys.
You didn’t tell me the names of the children in your class the whole first year, you had one friend, that’s who you needed, and he was there. Anyone else was surplus to requirements.
You never complained about going, well only twice. You’d pull your big school bag behind you, the one with the wheels, empty apart from your lunch box rattling at the bottom. It was your place to be yourself, no big brother to follow, no baby sister to lead.
Sometimes you’d get to play outside, you loved to tell me about that. There were all sorts of colourful gifts brought home, snakes, spiders, colouring pages, laminated Mother’s Day presents. “Didn’t I do it really good Mama?” you’d ask.
A year flew by and then you were four and went every single morning. Your big brother went to big school and you went to “my school”.
Careful and deliberate you’d hang your coat in the hallway, fix your clothes and walk into your classroom. The days I brought you you’d rush back to give me a hug before I’d leave. It kept me going.
We had a few days when you thought you’d rather stay home with me, but you went. You understood. Eventually.
You learned your little songs and sang out louder this year at the Christmas concert. You learned to count and surprised us with it. You told us about colours and shapes. You made friends, gained confidence and told us about your girlfriend. You learned how to be four.
You told us that “caring is sharing” and prayed for “Sr Clemens and all the people in Gorey” at bedtime. Your teachers did a great job. Your school was your thing. Just yours. It didn’t matter that your brother has gone there before, “It’s just my shool now” you’d assert.
You ran in, baseball cap on, scooter parked precisely in the hall. Happy to see the friendly faces, keen to get the best seat and the best toys.
Two years down and today is your last day.
You’ve worn the blue gown and have your photo to bring home, you’ll miss the “graduation” ceremony as we’ll be at your uncle’s wedding, but you’re not fussed. The first chapter of your education is over. We’ll wish your teachers a lovely summer and thank them for everything. We’ll say goodbye and I’ll do my very best to hold it together.
Off to big school with you. Two months off first. So long playschool.
You’re ready my beautiful brown-eyed boy, you will take it in your stride.
I, on the other hand, will need some time to get used to the idea.