My baby has flown the nest

By Cari Rosen, September 30, 2012
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They warned me there would be tears on the first day of big school. And tears there were. Aplenty. Although I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that they were all mine.

It's safe to say I had been in denial about this rite of passage, this handing over of my baby to the outside world. A world of independence and big kids, peer pressure and things I'll never get to know about. "What did you do today darling?" "Nothing" "Really? You just sat there and didn't move all day?" "No (rolling of eyeballs) we did some things but I just forgot what."

Even saying our farewells to nursery school, even putting name tapes on the uniform (iron-on, not sew-on - does this make me a bad mother?) I could kid myself that this was for some occasion far in the future.

But then the big day actually dawned.

I was fine until she put on the uniform. The tops and tunics "bought to last" that are almost twice the size of the child herself and will surely fit until she is 11-years-old. And, oh, the school shoes, the big girl school shoes.

"Why is your face wet?" asked the girl.

Somehow, I held it together until we reached the playground and I joined a group of other first-day mums all muttering furiously "just don't be nice to me" and trying their best to hide their quivering bottom lips from their over-excited small fry… none of whom seemed to be batting an eyelid about the fact that this was the most momentous occasion to have happened since the day that they were born.

In they rushed to find their pegs, and hang up coats and PE kit. In we followed, hoping the teacher hadn't spotted our red eyes, me wishing I'd had the foresight to bring dark glasses and thankful for a friend's supply of tissues.

I'm not quite sure what happened after that but, one minute, a complete stranger was saying: "Oh you must be Cari", and the next, I was sobbing like a baby on her shoulder.

The shame.

But four-years-old seems so little to be heading out into the big wide world. The girl herself is more than ready: there has been more than one midnight call where I have staggered into her bedroom to find out what's wrong only to be told, "five plus three equals eight," before she falls back into the deepest sleep leaving me wide awake and wondering if I should stop feeding her cheese.

Indeed, this first week, she has skipped into school with excitement and enthusiasm and come home buzzing - exhausted, but buzzing - with the thrill of it all.

I've spent the days I'm not at work wandering round the empty house and wondering what on earth I can do with myself. (This despite the fact I have a to-do list as long both my arms.)

But something tells me that however much I miss her - and oh I do - I'm going to find the answer to that question rather quickly.

    Last updated: 10:45am, September 30 2012