My youngest child is about to leave infant school and move on to junior, and as she looks forward to her new school, I’ve been feeling rather reflective and even a little melancholy.
“You took my hand, opened my mind and touched my heart.
You showed me where to look, but not what to see.
You lit the path to guide the way.
I may forget some of the things you’ve said, but I will never forget how you made me feel.
Thank you for planting the seeds of knowledge – they will grow forever.”
So as a family, we have come to the end of the ‘infant school years’, and as my youngest child prepares to leave her first school, in a way I find I am needing to prepare myself emotionally too. I have often thought of parenthood as a constant state of letting go. As a mother you grow your baby, it is your flesh and blood, but the second the baby leaves your body the process begins. Before you know it, you are dropping them off at nursery and peeping through the window as you leave to check they are not in floods of tears. I can still remember the walk back to the car through hazy tears with a lump in my throat. Then before you know it, it’s time to go to ‘big school’, and you hand your child over to their new teacher, and apart from worrying if they will shut the toilet door when they go, you wonder what you will do with your days!
Over the last decade, I have handed each one of my four children over to the early years staff at this school. I have entrusted them with my most precious possessions, and I have never doubted for one moment that they would be anything else than nurtured and cared for, and given an exciting stream of information and learning about the world. My children have been so happy in this school, and I truly believe this positive first experience with formal education has set them up for a lifetime of enjoyment in learning. However, it is not just the learning, it is the community you find you become part of when your child goes to school. Cheering on the ‘yellow’ team at sports day, taking part in the parents races (and realising you’re not 10 and your legs don’t work like they used to), buying soggy fairycakes at the Summer fete and paying for your child to have their face painted as a butterfly. Queuing in the rain for the Christmas play (often far too early), just so you can sit at the front so your child will see you. The daily exchange with teachers; ‘I’m sorry we’ve forgotten the bookbag AND the water bottle again!’ The daily chat with other mums, comparing notes, laughing about silly things, and kindly being reminded about important dates I’ve probably forgotten! I have spent 10 years dropping the kids off and picking them up. I’ve moaned about the traffic (why do idiots still insist on parking on the yellow zigzags?!), I’ve panicked when I’ve been late, and God knows I’ve felt less than jubilant ironing uniforms at the last minute.
Now the infant years are coming to an end, I’m feeling sad and nostalgic, savouring the final days, and I may even cry. My dark glasses are ready for the leavers assembly!
Being a parent is scary at times, everyday you face new challenges and situations where you’re not sure you are doing ‘it right’. I can honestly say the staff of this school walked hand in hand with us, they backed us up, they reaffirmed what was good and bad, they saw the potential in our children and kept them safe and secure. How many of us would like to see the world through the eyes of a child in infant school? Here is my indulgent and nostalgic look back on this very special school. Thank you to all the amazing teachers and staff. You will be fondly remembered for many years to come.