Big School, Big Lessons

Our Big Boy goes to Big School (in shorts that are too long!)

Our Big Boy goes to Big School (in shorts that are too long!)

Uniform ironed? Check ✓
Bag, hat and lunch box labelled? Check ✓
HB pencils sharpened? Check ✓
Emotions in check? Hmm… Not sure about that one.

Caleb started Big School today.
There were no tears.
Just a quiet anxiety. A quiver of tension. A too-tight smile. An unspoken uneasiness.
His emotions mirrored my own.

I thought I would be one of those mums who would do a merry jig after school drop-off today, intoxicated by the heady taste of freedom. Instead, I felt strangely… bereft.

All summer long, I couldn’t understand why other school mums wore long faces (and long printed pants) whenever they spoke about their “babies beginning big school”. Like Phil Dunphy in Modern Family I wanted to ask, “WTF?: Why The Face?”

But today, it hit me.
It’s not just me letting go of my child – it’s also my child letting go of me.
While this start of the school era signals more freedom for me, it also means more freedom for my children FROM me. I had to face facts – I am no longer the omniscient, omnipresent force in my children’s lives.

It was a simple act of my husband stopping me in my tracks.
As our son made his way to his new kindy classroom with his “buddy”, my husband held me back, saying, “Let him do this on his own. If he needs us, we are literally two steps behind.”

When your kids are little, you are their world. You influence, inspire and instruct.
You mould, mediate and even manipulate. You hold their little hand every step of the way, you kiss their boo-boos better – your worlds are intertwined.

But when school starts, this parental bond loosens, your control inevitably slips away… The kids start taking their cues from the world around them – from teachers and peers. You’ve got to find the right balance between letting go and holding on.
I know my kids are in good hands; but those hands are not mine.

If you think about it, this process of letting go probably starts right from the time your little one takes his/her first tentative steps (away from you!). It’s how we find our feet.

While Caleb’s had his first lesson in his classroom today, I’ve had my first lesson in letting go. And it wasn’t easy. But just like Caleb, I’ll learn.

So my hands – and heart – will hold my children a little tighter as we walk back home from our first day of school this afternoon.

PS: When I picked Caleb up from school this arvo, he was happy. Happy to see me – but also happy to have had a great first day at school.


So tell me, do you have any memories of your first day of school? What sort of student were you – anxious, eager, studious, happy, lazy?

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6 responses to “Big School, Big Lessons

  1. Al I felt this way only with Arjun. I was absolutely fine and happy with Maahi when she went to school. And she was extremely excited as well. While other kids were clinging onto their mommies, mine just gave me a bright smile and waved me off. She also looked at the cry babies and wondered what was wrong with them!!! Now i am wondering whether i am a bad mum. 😦

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    • Vandana, same here! Didn’t feel like this at all for Caitlyn. She was very excited about starting school & still loves every minute of it. Caleb, however, has been nervous & I could feel his tension. It must be a mother-son thing.

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      • Alison, I somehow forgot what it felt like when both of mine started kindy, but I had the same feeling as you when my nbr 1 started high school last week.

        I think I felt more nervous than him as we walked into the school ground.
        It felt more like I was starting school. All of a sudden my little boy is all grown up and going to ‘bigger’ school. It’s a strange feeling.
        Yesterday I saw him off to camp and I’m already missing him.
        Just like you, I’m also learning to let go.
        High school is not primary – there’s no after school care. He’s got to find his way to and back from school….somehow. So we’re on the road to independence..me being less dependant on him!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • S, I have no idea what it would feel like when my kidlets go to Secondary School like your B! Scary!! For one thing, all the kids will be taller than I am. 😉
        Hope B is settling in well. Does he have any friends with him?

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