It was a date that had been etched firmly in my mind since Riley’s 4th birthday in November. The date when we would find out what “big school” he would be going to in September. I still can’t quite believe that i am using “Riley” and “big school” in the same sentence. Wasn’t he born just yesterday?
As a first timer at this “big school” lark, I had researched the local schools thoroughly, I knew how many places each had to offer and I’d studied the admissions criteria and selection process for them all (yes…i really am that anal). I filled in the application form well in advance and then returned it. I double and triple checked that the application had been sent and then we waited.
And waited…for what felt like an eternity.
Despite all of this, there was only ever one school we wanted to him to go. The local village primary school. The school that my niece already attends and the one I knew most of his friends would be going up to. Our second choice would have been okay but I knew we didn’t meet the selection criteria and I really wasn’t keen on the third choice, it was one I’d simply put down because we had to.
I’d be lying if i said that i haven’t been incredibly anxious and stressed over school places the last few months. Friends and family repeatedly told me not to worry, that he would be fine, that he would easily get in……but how can you not worry about something that plays such an important part in your child’s life and their future? Especially something that you have absolutely no control over.
And then the 18th April came around. D-Day.
The council had made it clear during the application process that emails would be sent any time after for 4pm but that didn’t stop me refreshing my phone every few minutes. Every time the email “ping” went off on my iPhone, my stomach did somersaults. At 17:06 the email appeared. For a minute I stared at the title in my inbox, not wanting to open it. I felt physically sick. Scared of what it would reveal.
I opened it.
He was in, to our first choice school, and I burst into tears. Tears of relief. Tears of happiness. Tears of pride.
That email, the confirmation of his primary school place, marked the next stage of his life and the start of a brand new chapter for all of us. His story so far has been one of bravery and grit and determination. He has come SO far from the tiny premature baby that was placed into my arms for the first time 6 days after being born. He was so sick, so precious and so fragile and though i tried to remain positive, there were times during his 6 week stay in NICU where i honestly thought that he wasn’t going to make it. That i would never see him grow up and that i’d never see him do all the things that other kids do.
And yet here we are 4 years down the line… he is happy and healthy and thriving and preparing to start “big school”. There will be uniforms to by, school runs to do, things to learn, new friendships to make. For five days a week my son will be in somebody else’s care. Somebody else will have the pleasure of his company and the fun of teaching him new things. He will be somewhere else, somewhere where I won’t be, and it seems to have come around far too quickly.
I have no doubt that my big boy is ready for school, he’s been asking to go for months. He is naturally inquisitive and loves learning about new things. He’s a sponge that absorbs and retains all kinds of information. He’s caring and charismatic and just loves to spend time with other children. He is ready. More than ready.
It’s me that isn’t, but i have to accept that my little boy is growing up and starting school.