As I type there is a small boy dressed in stripy pyjamas bouncing around his bed upstairs. Every now and then he has an urgent request for parental intervention, or he drops something very loudly so that his daddy or I make the journey up the stairs to investigate.
As I pass his room to tend to his little sister his cheeky face peers around the door and he seizes the opportunity, assesses my mood and asks if he can give her “just one more hug”. He and his brother have suggested that they should have showers in the morning to “be fresh for school”.
He is bursting with excitement.
Tomorrow he starts big school.
Most of this friends have started in the last few days but his school is open for its debutantes tomorrow and he is raring to go.
He’s enjoying the fuss, the new bag, the fact that while his big brother has graduated to the formal shirt and tie uniform he gets to wear the comfy tracksuit, a fact he keeps reminding his brother about.
This time last year I couldn’t imagine my baby boy heading to school, but now, as he approaches his fifth birthday he has suddenly shown us just how ready he is.
After years of refusing to count or say letters he’s suddenly producing lines of made up letters and copying bits of text from books off his own bat.
He’s colouring with precision and is pretending to sound out words like he remembers his brother doing when he started school.
He’s naturally very curious, his eleventy million questions a day are testament to that. This boy wants to learn.
He says he’s nervous, but I suspect that he has been asked if he is, or the thinks that it’s expected of him. That word isn’t usually in his vocabulary.
It’s a big step, but as the second child from our house to go to school there’s a lot that’s familiar to him, that he’s learned from his brother. He knows about uniforms and schoolbags, he knows where the school is and where you play. He recognises some of the teachers and knows all about “little break and big break”.
This makes it less scary for him I think, and for me. I know the drill this time too. I know that the tiredness this week will be overwhelming, surpassed only by the hunger. I know that he’ll have a bit of culture shock, and I’ll be more prepared for it this time.
I know too that when I look at him dressed in his uniform tomorrow morning, I’ll swell with pride and smile. I’ll tell him that he looks really cool, because that’s what he wants to hear, that’s what’s important to his nearly-five-year-old self. I’ll hug him tight and tell him that I love him soooooo much, he’ll suggest that we should go now.
We’ll deliver him to his teacher. He’ll hold my hand and stand slightly behind me when we go into the room at first. He’ll find a toy that he likes and a seat to sit on and he’ll get comfortable. Then he’ll look at me for reassurance, I’ll give it, and when the parents leave the classroom I’ll fight back a tear while he gets on with it.
He’ll have started big school, and he’s definitely cool enought for school. Am I?