I didn’t think it would bother me. I thought that I was immune from the neuroses of the Mum at the school gates, sniffing into her hanky and waving goodbye to a piece of her woman-hood. I mean… seriously, I’m better than that? I don’t need validation through my offspring! Sure, I’m not the self-validating “woman” I should be… heck, the word “womb” still makes me feel a bit squirmy, stuff of a feminist’s wet dream I am not… but neither am I reliant on other people to make me complete.
And yet, as I sit here… a few nights before Leila starts school, I’m a mess.
You see, I feel like I’m losing my little friend. My beautiful little creature. Someone I’ve nurtured, led, and loved for the past 4-years. It’s not even as though I’m letting her spread her wings to go and fly amongst the clouds. We’re being parted… unwillingly. Whenever I ask her about school, she says… “it’s boring”. She had a couple of trial days, and on the basis of this, has decided that school involves never leaving you chair as you please… putting your hand up to go to the toilet, and being told what to do and when to do it. And let’s face it… she’s a little bit right.
A wee bit rebellious in my psyche, I think of school as a fast-track to learning how to “sit still, shut up, and listen”. Ideal for working life. Wear a tie, wear a blazer… do what you’re told, and conform. But at the same time, it does give you (in a round-about way) the tools to question our world… the most powerful gift of education. Leila loves to learn, I watch her confidence grow with every number and letter mastered. I don’t push her… I’m a huge underachiever myself, quietly disappointing people around me but learning to the beat of my own drum. She thrives, as most children do, from praise… and the satisfaction that she’s doing a good job. How could I ever wish for her not to experience that joy?
Of course, I don’t. But I worry….
I worry that she won’t make friends readily. I worry that she won’t have anyone to sit with at lunch-time. I worry that she won’t push herself to make connections… just reach out Leila, please reach out.
She has a good heart, one of the best I’ve come across. I say that with as much bias as I do earnest-ness. She has a kindness in her that makes her give pause after a strop… a sense of right and wrong that allows her, despite her young age, to apologise without prompting when she’s done wrong. I’m not saying that she’s rare… but she is a good egg. That’s all I want for her… to love, and to be loved.
So my darling girl… as I prepare to leave you outside your classroom on your first day of school. Shoes as shiny as they can be, lunchbox as imaginative as it is tasty…. show your true colours to your friends. Let them know that you are good, that you won’t ridicule, that you won’t judge without good reason. You will go a long way. A long way. And ultimately, you will be happy.
And then I will be happy. And proud to watch you every step of the way.
Good luck Leila, you’ll be grand!