We’re back from a really brilliant week in Somerset. Yes, I know I said it was going to be crap (see Expectations: Keeping it Real) but my low expectations really paid off – we had a great time. OK, so it may have rained almost every day but we soldiered on despite the weather, in true British holiday style, and had lots of fun. A memorable open top bus ride through Cheddar Gorge in driving rain is something not to be forgotten.
We are back and so begins the long anticipated transition. It is Back to School time. Change is afoot for all of us. H moves into Key Stage 2, M starts in Reception and T and I become a duo, home alone together. Momentous times that we have talked about and prepared for over months are finally here. M is beyond excited. I am still trying to get my head around my little girl starting school and having just one pre-schooler at home again.
When I say this transition is much anticipated, I don’t mean I’ve been desperate to ship the kids off to school. Far from it. I’ve actually had a really brilliant summer with them this year and definitely the best since H started school three years ago. The first two summers were a challenge with a young baby so the only way was up – I won’t go into details on our first summer break with three kids aged five, two and newborn. Suffice to say I was relieved when September came round.
Not so this year. I’ll actually be a bit sad to pack H off on Thursday because he has been brilliantly behaved and really good company for the most part. But he has missed his mates and will probably go back with a spring in his step. And I dare say I’ll enjoy the slightly quieter days with him back at school too.
M’s school anticipation madness was reaching fever pitch in May/June and I was genuinely alarmed that spending a summer with her in full manic mode would be hideous and tantrum-filled, but she really calmed down as the summer wore on and the big day came into focus. She is still counting the sleeps but thankfully without punctuating each day with multiple meltdowns.
And finally to my Baby T. His first two summers were tricky but this year he has been a delight. He still has plenty of moments – what two year old doesn’t? But the last couple of months have seen so many significant changes in his behaviour, not least that he is now chatting away with the best of them, which is just adorable and makes life so much easier. I can now see the two of us quite happily whiling away our days home alone together now, discussing the latest Thomas episode as we have post-lunch cuddles on the sofa. And man, does that kid love a cuddle?
So, big changes are coming. I’m sure there will be hiccups along the way but, after this brilliant week away, where everyone got on really well, I feel happily calm and ready for it all. I also think that everyone else is ready for the transition too. M has been geared up for about a year, and I am finally able to picture my life with just my cheeky T at home (T, incidentally, has no clue what is coming, but takes everything in his stride and will probably be delighted to have me to himself).
If I’m honest, I suppose the one I am still worried about most is H, my eldest. The change from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 (first to middle school) is a big one, even when you stay in the same building. I just hope he is armed with the tools he needs to take it on. Time will tell and I think a relaxing summer is just what he needed to prepare him for the times ahead. He is just still such a baby in his ways and such a gentle soul.
The main thing about these big transitions isn’t so much the event, it is the thinking about it, dwelling on the context. Knowing that it marks an end, as much as a beginning. I’m not one of those parents who wistfully hang on to every ‘last’, wishing my kids younger. I won’t be sobbing over M’s nursery uniform. But it is still worth a moment of reflection.
I’ll never again have my pudgy cheeked baby girl at home. I loved that phase, but my M just isn’t that baby any more. She is a proper little girl, ready to take on the world. She is very smart and her questions are already far bigger than the confines of her currently very small world. She needs so much more, and I will send her off to school next week feeling very proud of the bright and confident girl she is becoming, not full of sadness for what she used to be.
That said, I can’t guarantee I won’t shed the odd tear on the day. It is, after all, a pretty big event.
Tomorrow sees the start of September. So today, 31st August, is the real year end for all those parents and kids out there. Today is a suitably rainy end to the summer. A days of endings, before the big beginnings start.
Good luck to all the kids heading back to school and special good luck to all those dear little new starters. Very big steps ahead for tiny feet.