Today my Butterfly started “big School!” She overflowed with anticipation and expectation. She could not sit still she was so excited and she was far too nervous to eat. I spend the morning desperately trying to swallow the lump in my throat and smile through this immense sadness that seemed to have engulfed me.
In the shower this morning, I gave myself a good talking to and told myself off for my silliness. Our Butterfly is more than ready for school and everything that comes with it. She has the strength of character that will serve her well during those tough school days. She is a friendly and caring child who people seem drawn to and she makes friends easily. She is respectful and unafraid of authority and she communicates well. She is eager, enthusiastic and more then up for the challenge. Our Butterfly is more than “school ready” she is “school eager!” Then why am I so sad and nervous?
I remember the delight I felt watching the Butterfly learn as a baby, the fascination that went with the discovery of her hands. The triumph and celebration when she finally worked out how to climb onto the couch, the glee when she got the shape into the right place; it is all still so fresh in my memory. So many smiles, laughs, tantrums and tears so many learning moments, so many lessons learnt. I believe that the ones that learnt the most in these past five years are the Butterfly’s parents; we have done so much growing up. Children are the best life coaches! Why then do I find this next step in her learning so intimidating?
When the Butterfly started at Kindy I looked forward everyday to hearing about the new things she had learnt. It was a relief when she went so eagerly and didn’t need me there. I was grateful for the ease with which she embraced her new environment. Letting her go then was so much easier, why when I know this is just the next step is it so hard to let her go? Why, when now is when the real learning starts, when every word she learns to read or write will be a triumph unparalleled in her short life, do I feel so heartbroken and sad? Why does the inevitable hurt so much? How is it possible that while preparing my Butterfly for her school career I forgot to prepare myself? I was unprepared for the knot in my stomach as I marked her stationary and bags. I was taken by surprise by the intensity of emotion that overwhelmed me as I sat and watched her sleeping last night. I totally over packed her lunch box and woke her up far too early, so early that she opened one eye and said, “Mum, my feet don’t wanna get up!” For me everything was new for the Butterfly it was all the same: Get up, drink tea, and eat breakfast sort of, toilet, teeth, get dressed, socks and shoes, brush hair, lunch box in bag and bag on back! Time to go! Well no actually, we’ll be far too early mums a little ahead of herself!
Eventually it was time to go, the Lollipop was loaded in her pushchair, we climbed into our raincoats and we began our short walk to Central Primary School. It was the longest journey of my life! The Butterfly greeted all the kids and parents with her usual enthusiasm as I walked slightly ahead of her trying to smile. We walked through the main entrance and the Butterfly was off, removing her bag and coat as she went, I caught up to her as she was hanging everything up. Thinking she was hanging her bag on someone else's hook, I told her to not: “But Mum look that’s my name!” Oh gosh, she was right there is was how did I miss that? While I was trying to pull myself together the Butterfly opened, her backpack took out her water bottle and book bag and headed into the classroom and put them, yes you guessed it, where her name was. Then she went up to her teacher and with much aplomb said: “Hello Sarah, I’m here!” No, they do not address the teachers by their first names here, but the children are aware of them. My Butterfly, I think, forgot her teacher’s surname but remembered they shared a first name. I was so impressed by her teacher’s warm welcome and how she gently corrected the Butterfly about how she is addressed.
So now, all that remained was for me to say goodbye and trying desperately to hold back the tears I said goodbye to my Butterfly, wished her luck and a good day and she said, “I will Mum and I promise when I get back from school I’ll know everything and I’ll read you a story at bedtime!”
I sobbed all the way home!