parents

BEC: I lied to my daughter this morning.

BEC  Bec with Ava on Halloween.

by BEC SPARROW

I lied to my daughter this morning.

As she sat at the kitchen bench slurping weetbix everywhere but into her mouth, I watched her push milk off her chin and announce, eyes twinkling, “I can’t wait for school next year!”

“I know! Me too!” I lied.

I don’t want her to go.

Well, I do.

Nope, nope. That’s a lie.  I actually don’t.

She’s ready. I know. So ready. Readier than ready. But the fact is I’m going to miss her terribly which is apparently a rather uncool Mumsy things to say.

You see I’m surrounded by mums — wonderful mums, dear friends of mine — who I know are counting the days until their little ones are being bustled into their very first classroom.

And I get it. I do. I’m no Mary Poppins. I have my days at home with Ava when I would rather pull out my eyelashes than play another game of shops (she charges airport prices FFS) or restaurants (she refuses to make Duck l’orange and every time I go to bite my pretend pizza she announces there’s a fly in it) or  hair salons (don’t even go there).

Am I making it sound fun? It’s not fun.  It’s like being held hostage by Big Ted and Jemima. Last week I had to sit through a puppet show that never ended. NEVER ENDED.  There wasn’t even a storyline. Ava and her cousin were just making shit up and bursting into fits of giggles. And then there’s the tantrums and the meltdowns and the whiiiiiiiiiiiiiining about  nothing and pretty much everything.

IT’S ANNOYING.

Bec with her children Ava, Finn and Quincy.

But for the most part, the truth is, that little four -year-old of mine is my partner in crime.

We cook. Well I cook, she cracks an egg, does a bit of a stir-for-show and then disappears. Only to reappear when there’s a bowl to lick.

We colour-in and do jigsaws and watch Sofia the First.

We shoot the breeze about whether her late sister Georgie is working part-time as the tooth fairy.  About why Jimmy Giggle is so afraid of  bats. How she saw Peter Pan at her window last night.

About how I shouldn’t say “wait til the little man goes green” when we’re at a crossing because it could be a girl. In shorts. With short hair. Or maybe her hair is tied back in a ponytail.

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Point taken, lady.

She follows me around like my shadow — helping me wrangle her crazy brother Fin (who has taken to hopping onto his toy car and attempting to RUN ME DOWN).  She nags me to make pancakes  or jelly or gingerbread with her.  Or to count exactly how many sleeps it is until her fifth birthday. And she questions aloud how exactly Santa sees what you’re doing and do I think he perhaps has a crystal ball.

Possibly.

And all of that and a thousand things more I will miss. Terribly.

Bec with Ava

And then there’s the worry.  In a world where so many little kids seem so sophisticated & savvy, I worry my little girl’s joyous enthusiasm for everything will make her an easy target of mean taunts or unkind remarks.

I worry that the other kids next year will laugh that she still accidentally says ‘banama’ instead of ‘banana’. Or that she still watches Play School.  Or how sometimes – not often but sometimes – when she’s feeling a bit unsure and scared she sucks her thumb.

And where will I be? Not there but home. Unable to pull her onto my lap and stroke her hair and whisper  away all her worries by reminding her of all the things I love about her. Instead I have to trust that I’ve equipped her with enough self-confidence and resilience to cope.  Dammit.

And you know what else? I worry that I’ve squandered the time I’ve had. That I’ve spent too many hours with my face turned away – working on a story, answering an email, or er, surfing the net for kaftans. Or worse, shooshing her away because housework was the priority.

“I just need to… and then I’ll be with you.”  A sentence I’ve said shamefully often.

You know I’m teary as I write this post. Pathetic! Toughen up! But I can’t help it. My little ray of sunshine is about to enter the next exciting phase of her life and I’m over-joyed and happy for her.  I am. Because she’s just so, so ready.  But still,  I’m just a little bit sad for me.

How did you handle – or how do you plan to handle – your first child going to school?

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