Friday, June 20, 2008

Moving on

On Wednesday of this week I sat through my son’s farewell concert at Nursery School and left feeling not only immensely proud of him but also immensely proud of myself.

I didn’t cry, or gurn, or make a complete eejit of myself and I had been quite seriously concerned that I would. For the last year I have dropped him off each morning trusting the staff will care for him, educate him, treat him with respect and - if I’m honest - love him.

Letting your child take the first faltering steps into any school setting is daunting - especially when you are a control freak like me. From the minute and hour he was born I was able to, more or less, control his environment.

I looked after him the way I wanted him looked after and when I went back to work I made sure there was someone I trusted implicitly to shower him with as much love as I had.So when it came to choosing a school - picking teachers who would start him on his road to big school - I was utterly daunted.

You see, you can’t really interview a teacher. You can’t send them buckets of information on your child and then test them to see how much they remember before you offer them the gig. Yes, you can have a look around the school and talk to a few different parents but all the while a small voice in your head is shouting “but they’ve never looked after my child before”. I sat night after night and thought of all his quirks and wondered how could they ever know just how to soothe him, reassure him and encourage him the way I do.

A very sick and selfish part of me wanted them to fail - wanted him to cling to my legs and tell me that he wanted me and only me because no one looked after him as well as I did. And while I was glad that particular (and very, very small) wish didn’t come true it took a degree of restraint on the day I left him there for the first time - and watched him run through the doors without glancing back - to stop me from running after him and clinging to his legs instead.

The day my child started nursery was the day I realised he doesn’t need me quite so much as I need him.

That stung a bit and it took a leap of faith to leave him in the care of relative strangers. I was in serious danger of coming over all Gollum-like and cradling him to me whispering “my precious” over and over again in a creepy voice.

But he started to thrive there - he loved almost everything about it and would get annoyed at weekends because there was no school. (Yet again another blow to the fragile maternal ego). He would come home and explain his day to me and if I’m honest teach me a few things too.When I dropped him off in the mornings the teachers would talk to me and keep me informed as to how he was getting on.

They would laugh at his little quirks (Joseph has a habit of speaking ever so politely when he doesn’t want to do something eg: “No thanks, I don’t think I’ll bother with that today.”) and constantly ask me if I had any questions or concerns. I had a sense all the time that they did actually love him, and the rest of the 56 children in the school.So fast forward a year and it’s time to say goodbye.

I’ve been stupidly emotional about it, just as I have been about him starting “big school”. I have already, to my shame, cried at his induction meeting and had a mild meltdown buying his school jumper and tie.IndependentThis was all made that little bit more emotional when I met with his nursery teachers to discuss his progress over the year. It dawned on me, as they spoke, that he has learned a myriad of things over the past year and not only the educational basics like how to hold a pencil and how to count to 10.

He has learned how to be a more independent, caring and confident little boy. He is far removed now from the babyish, slightly spoiled, wee boy who walked in the doors of Galliagh Nursery School in September.I feel confident that he will move on and excel in his new school just as much - but parting is not easy, and again I think in many ways it will harder for me than for him. I have an urge to cling to the legs of his teachers and beg them to keep looking after him. I’ve got used to walking in the gates every morning and chatting with the other mummies.

Over the year I’ve learned how every toy in the place has an educational purpose and every activity has been pushing him on.When his teacher told me that letting go is difficult from their side too - that they in many ways like they have been gifted your child for a year - I was a lost cause.

My other half had to mop me out of the school car park and assure me it will all be fine.I never realised before how moving schools could be just as emotional for the parent as for the child. It’s fair to say that for me too it has been a steep learning curve, but I’ll always be grateful to the staff of Galliagh Nursery School for how they cared for that which is most precious to me. And I just hope his new school will do the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to your son's Nursery school. This is bringing back so many memories for me, and scarily making me feel 50 years older than you!
I don't think it get's easier each time they step up a rung on the ladder, it's just different. Last year my daughter started at Senior school and I thought I would die! This September my son starts Year 10 and GSCE courses. It doesn't stop. Each time they do it, and succeed, you know you did a good job. :o)

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