I’m so close to Anna, we’ve had so many adventures together and overcome so many challenges. We have this connection that sometimes, I find it hard to separate where she ends and I begin. I know the words she uses and what they mean. I know the special noise she makes when she’s hungry or thirsty and I know the cry she makes, well really the only time she cries, when she doesn’t feel well. I know how to comfort her and when to step back when she wants to be left alone. However, whilst I know Anna better than anyone else, I also know that other people are often able to get Anna to move outside her boundary line with ease, as I know that it’s often my boundaries that need to be pushed much further than Anna’s. Anna has taken me on adventures I only could have imagined, we’ve been together every day for 4 years, and I’m not relishing the prospect of being separated for over 7 hours a day, at the same time, I know I need to let Anna spread her wings and the time to do that has arrived.
Trusting your little person to someone whom you don’t know is always difficult, however I believe that when that child can’t tell you what they’re feeling, trusting your child to someone else is much more difficult. How will I know if things are OK, how will I know that Anna isn’t sitting there sobbing all day long? The truth is I don’t, so I am going to have to trust Anna’s new school will tell me how it is for Anna each day. I met with Anna’s teacher yesterday and I’ve also met the support staff and they all seem very capable, confident and lovely and so I continue to be grateful that we finally got the school we wanted for Anna. At the same time, I know I will need to continue to fight for Anna, to advocate for her, to ensure she gets the education that she deserves, every step of the way .
I’ve weighed up all summer the transport issue as I can’t be in two places at once, and do 2 school drop off and pickups at exactly the same time, over 3 miles apart. So I’ve decided I’m going to take Anna to school and then she’ll come home by the transport bus. I can’t put Anna on the transport in the morning from day one, I’m not sure she’ll understand where she’s going, she won’t know anyone on the bus with her and I worry that she’ll be scared and I will feel that I’ve pulled the rug from underneath her. It’s not something I wanted to do at all, but the practical side of my brain has kicked in and logic tells me that if I take Anna, and pick Elsa up, I’ll be doing something for each of them and hopefully neither of them will feel left out.
As Facebook is flooded with happy smiling pictures of children returning to the new term, or with the little ones starting school for the first time, I know I won’t be able to snap a shot like that of Anna. Instead I took one 3 days ago, when we were doing a trial run of the uniform, just in case she wants to look back on her starting school in the years to come. Anna’s not a big fan of her uniform, I think mostly because we’ve spent all summer in swimming costumes and summer clothes and the uniform probably isn’t the most comfortable after all that. We’re persevering and every day it’s getting easier, although I’m sure they may have a little nudist at school at some point during the first few weeks and months!
Anna remains an adventurer, often running in to new experiences head on and taking them in her stride, despite the fact that I thought that situation would be worrying for her, so I need to remind myself more often of just how far Anna has come and that we have already turned so many pages just this year alone. The fact is that over the last 4 months we’ve been able to do things I really only ever dreamed of doing with Anna, such as going to the coffee shop together, taking a trip on a bus, going out for dinner and actually being able to leave the park/beach/Elsa’s school without a test of wills. And, now we’re able to do these things together, I’m not quite ready to give it all up for Anna to go to school 5 days a week, at the same time I know I need to and I know that I need to adapt too. So the last few weeks have felt like sand slipping through my fingers.
Anna is my greatest adventure, she’s taken me on a path I never imagined we’d tread, and I had no idea 18 months ago that we’d end up where we are now. But here we are.
I’m Anna’s barometer and I know that I need to absolutely make sure that when I drop her at school for the first time, and each day that follows, that I am smiling and confident so that she sees that this is going to be OK as Mummy is absolutely fine with it. I can’t show any chinks in my armour as that isn’t fair to Anna. It is OK to fall apart in the car afterwards, out of Anna’s sight.
I was looking for something to sum up just how I felt about Anna heading off to school and I came across this lovely poem from a blogger called Emma Robinson, and I think she has managed to capture a parent’s feelings of first day school nerves perfectly;
I know you’re rather busy
First day back, there’s just no time
A whole new class of little ones
And this one here is mine
I’m sure you have things covered
And have done this lots before
But my girl is very little
She hasn’t long turned four
In her uniform this morning
She looked so tall and steady
But now beside your great big school
I’m not quite sure she’s ready
Do you help them eat their lunch?
Are you quick to soothe their fears?
And is she falls and hurts her knee
Will someone dry her tears?
And what if no-one plays with her?
What if someone’s mean?
What if two kids have a fight
And she’s caught in between?
You’re right I have to leave now
It’s time for her to go
I’m sure she’ll learn so much from you
Things that I don’t know
Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly
That she’s fine without me
I know she has to go to school
It’s just so fast you see
It seems like just a blink ago
I first held her in my arms
It’s been my job to love, to teach
To keep her safe from harm
So, when I wave goodbye in a moment
And she turns to walk inside
Forgive me if I crumple
Into tears of loss and pride
I know as I give her one more kiss
And watch her walk away,
That she’ll never be wholly mine
As she was before today.