Isabelle Silbery: A letter to my son about the man I know you will become.

Well, my little monkey, the morning has come.

Today you will put on the classic oversized uniform and your massive empty backpack which is bigger than your whole body. What strikes me about this image is how big everything is; I ask myself, how will you ever fill it all up?

I will take your warm little hand in mine and walk two blocks to the big brick building where you will have your first day at the local primary school.

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Your face shows all your emotions: excitement, anticipation and a hint of fear.

You don’t know it because you’re only five, but my heart is half – full of pure mumma bear pride and half-full of the grief that comes with letting you go. Letting a part of you go for all the right reasons.

It’s one of the hardest, but best, things: I’m starting to understand that it’s not actually letting you go, but letting you grow.

Life as you know it is about to change. I know all you’re thinking about is the playground and all the new activities but what you don’t realise is how pivotal this big step is in your development as it forms the young man you will become.

It will shape your mind and your heart, and fill your little toolbox with many of the most important tools you’ll need to become a man.

As you hug me briefly at the classroom door and you break away from my arms, as sad as this feels, I know this is the best and healthiest thing for you, my boy.

I’ve done the hard work. The long, hard nights breastfeeding you, rocking you as you cried; for what seemed like years and years you never wanted me out of your sight.

It was relentless, exhausting, beautifully life-changing but at times, I craved space. Well, now I am getting it. I wish I knew then that during those times I was cementing our bond, our love, your resilience for this time that you begin to individuate. This is not a loss; this is my job as your parent.

You will hear lots of talk at school about learning, and yes, that’s a big, important focus. But what I want most for your education is how to be with others.

I know your brain works and I know it works well. I have full faith in you that you can learn no matter what environment you’re in because I’ve taught you that: I value always questioning the world and that’s innate in you, darling curious thing.


But what I wish is that you grow to care for and understand others.

That you see that the kid in your class who breaks down every now and then isn’t ‘weird’, he just gets overwhelmed with loud noises. I want you to learn how to have empathy for the kid no one is playing with; to make them feel included and valued.

That could actually be you … so wouldn’t you want someone to do the same? I want you to learn about how other families live, what they believe in, what they eat at home and what sorts of homes they live in. This is the real world that I want you educated on, more so over any times tables.

As you make new friends, guess what? I’ll make them too! I’m so ready to add to the warm-hearted community we have created for ourselves.

I’m a single mum and you’re an only child, so this adventure is for the both of us. Funnily enough, I feel the same anticipation as you for this new chapter.

Bring on boozy BBQs, trivia nights and finding the other parents who forget to dress their kid up for book week. They’re my people! (Please make friends with the kids of these parents).

This new phase will not only allow you to learn about others but also, importantly, about yourself.

I hope that when the opportunity comes your way to be a good human, you will take it.

And if you don’t, you will learn and try again, just like me. We are always learning: even your parents aren’t perfect!

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If you hear or see a girl be put down in the classroom or in the playground, you will stick up for her: you will see me in her and show her kindness.

If a boy wants to play dads and dads instead of mums and dads, that’s ok too. Boys will not ‘be boys’: they can be soft, shy, loud and everything in between.

You know how I’ve always allowed you to cry? You’ve been through some tough times recently, some big losses and some small ones, but I’ve always encouraged you to show and talk through your feelings.

So, remember that and when you see that boy at school holding it in, pretending to be tough, you go up to him and tell him it’s ok to let it out. You make him feel safe like I’ve made you feel safe and tell him it’s ok.

You’ve got this my little man. You will be amazing. There will be highs and lows but I’ll be there, at arm’s length and with big cuddles when you need, as you turn into a young man.

How different will your generation be, I wonder? You will show me… all in good time.