The time has come. Tomorrow morning will see me bundling Youngest into her older sister’s hand-me down school uniform. A uniform that made her squeal in delight when she tried it on. The dress being ever so slightly too big, making her look small and vulnerable. With her stood before me, twirling around in her creased dress, I am transported back to the day she was born. All rosy cheeked with a shock of dark brown hair and big blue eyes. I wish I had known then what I know now: time really does fly by in the blink of an eye.
On the days when I am resenting walking away from my career and moving to Jersey, I remind myself how lucky I am. How by moving to Jersey meant that I was able to stay at home with Youngest. Something I couldn’t afford to do with Oldest. Jersey gave us a new way of life. In the summer Youngest and I explored the island together, from country lanes to windswept beaches. In the winter we retreated to coffee shops, finding the best place for a coffee and frothy milk, the nicest place to huddle away together. But now we are leaving those blissfully free days behind and moving forward to the next stage.
I have come to realise that I’m never good with change. Youngest on the other hand is more than ready for change. Her excitement reached fever-pitch when she chose her school shoes. “I’m joining my sister at school Mummy”. “Yes”, I whispered, “yes you are” as I struggled not to sob. At night, as I am tortured by my inability to sleep, I have found myself wondering how she will cope with the requirements of school. I had no doubt that her older sister would thrive. Oldest was a bookworm from day one, always wanting to read and write, a kind and thoughtful character who is constantly thinking and questioning. Youngest is her opposite in most of their character traits. Mr C jokes that Oldest is like me and Youngest is like him. They certainly share a love for documentaries, like to play computer games and they have a good sense of humour. Youngest has always had a mischievous laugh that is infectious to those that hear it. As a baby, the word “disgusting” said “digusting” would have her in fits of giggles.
Youngest is her sister’s mirror opposite in so many ways. When Oldest was born she didn’t sleep through the night for three painful years and today she still doesn’t need much sleep. Youngest is the opposite. She has always loved her sleep. She was sleeping through the night in a matter of weeks. I had always thought that babies like that were a myth. We did nothing differently, she was just a different baby and a different personality. However, even now she loves a nap and I worry that school will completely exhaust her.
How Will Youngest Cope?
As a pre-schooler, Oldest loved trying to write but Youngest has shown complete apathy towards writing – “no thanks mummy, I don’t need to do that”. She has been the same at pre-school. When asked to sit down and write she has sidled out of the classroom and bolted into the playground. Youngest would rather dance, play with her toys or charge around outside. Who can blame her? Youngest also has a mischievous side to her and likes to play the clown. The former teacher in me thinks I can foretell what she will be like in class. Let’s just say I am expecting the odd phone call ;-). However, she is constantly surprising us so I may be wrong. I spend my days worrying that her speech still isn’t where it should be. Gently correcting her when she says “nogurt”, and asking her to say “y-o-g-h-u-r-t” and then she says something that blows me away. She can tell me that her favourite dinosaur is a Pterodactyl and that he eats fish. The other day I was struggling to pull off a sticker that was stuck on a piece of paper when Youngest casually piped up “oh that’s adhesion mummy”. She is constantly surprising us.
How Will I Feel?
I still don’t know how I will feel when I leave her behind tomorrow at school. I know that I have been revelling in her company this summer. We have had lots of days out and lazy days indoors too. Days where we have snuggled under a blanket in front of a film. I soaked up her company and made the most of those unstructured and unpressurised days that only the summer holidays can dish up. Will she cry tomorrow? I very much doubt it but then you never quite know with Youngest. Will I cry? Probably, but I will hold them in until I have reluctantly made my escape. Then what? I am dreading the empty house. The long hours of the school day stretching ahead of me. Really I should be revelling in the freedom. I should appreciate that I will have the time to write in peace, that I will be able to meet my deadlines without having to juggle childcare. This is my time. I should feel delighted yet I am already grieving. I am already keenly feeling her loss. It’s an end of an era and I’m not ready for that era to end.
Time Really Does Fly
At the beginning you are told “make the most of this”, and “they will be grown up before you know it”. You nod politely but all the time thinking that they are insane as at that point it feels like the newborn days will stretch on forever and it feels like you will never stop changing nappies. But of course they are right. The time we have them at home, the time where we are able to revel in their companionship is in reality very short. Before we know it they are skipping down that school path without even a backward glance. That though, is the way it should be. All good things must come to an end.
I feel so proud of the girl she has become. I know that she will love school (well playtime mostly) and my heart knows that she is ready. I’m also consoling myself with the fact that her older sister will be there to keep an eye on her. Her older sister will be there to help when I am not.
On the positive side, because we must always look for positives, my house will be tidier and I will get more work done. Also, we will always have the summer holidays. Well at least until the teenage years, when I am predicting they will take to their rooms and communicate with me via Whatsapp (or whatever the messaging service will be by then). That is the next stage I am slightly dreading.
As I am typing this I can hear Oldest and Youngest giggling away in their bedroom. Oh how I’m going to miss both of them this week, the laughter and chaos. Roll on home time.