My son started high school yesterday. And it was fine. Just fine. Okay, so I sat in the car afterwards and wept, but that’s not a big deal. I weep all the time these days.
Transitions are hard, and this one particularly so. I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be. And it wasn’t the fact that my son was going to a new campus, with a new uniform, and new rules, and new independence. It wasn’t that he would have to make new friends, meet new teachers, or catch the bus home alone. I wasn’t worried about any of that and neither was he. It was what it all represented.
My son is growing up. When he was in primary school, he was still my little boy. Suddenly, with a new tie and a shiny pair of shoes, he had become a young man. His childhood was over.
Childhood is, truly, a magical time. There are endless possibilities and you don’t know how the story will end. And obviously my son’s story isn’t close to ending, but the first chapter has definitely closed.
Part of me is celebrating that fact. I am so proud of the beautiful person my son has become and how much he has grown over the past few years. But because I am ruminative, and
a little very anxious, I can’t help reflecting on his childhood till now and of all the mistakes I’ve made. He was my first child – the ‘experiment’, one might say – and I got it wrong on so many occasions. I must have got it right on occasion too, because he has turned out pretty great, but I keep wishing I could go back to the beginning and start again, just undo all the mistakes and make it perfect.
Of course, I still have my girls – my big girl is in Year 5 and Boo is still in pre-school – but there is something profoundly significant about the milestones of your eldest. When they are born you become a parent for the first time. When they speak their first words you hear yourself called ‘Mama’ for the first time. When they start school you become the parent of a school kid. And when they start high school you are the parent of a high schooler. It’s huge.
Still, it’s not about me. It’s about him. My son. My son the high schooler…. (sorry, just having another little weep for a minute…) And my son the high schooler had a terrific day. He walked confidently into school, waved cheerfully goodbye, and caught the bus all the way home without any problems at all. And when he walked through the door, he said ‘Hi Mum, can I have a snack?’ as if the most momentous change in our lives hadn’t occurred at all.
So I’m okay. Because he’s okay. Still, I can tell you this now. Next year, when Boo starts school, I’m going to be a sobbing mess. Having a young man in the house is a wonderful thing. But having no baby anymore is going to absolutely break my heart.
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