It’s a whole new world at my place. Petra started school a couple of weeks ago.
She’s been getting herself prepared for months. She made up a great story about it over the holidays. She had a mum and a dad, she said, and they loved her and she loved them. They taught her all kinds of useful things like cooking and knitting and bike-riding. But they died. And so she was moving on and coming to live with us. (We were random strangers she’d picked up in the forest (as represented by our back yard).) As good a way as any to summarise the notion of transition, if somewhat morbid…
The first couple of days were stressful for everyone. Petra was nervous and so was I, and so were all the other children and parents. The teachers are all new as well, so it was a perfect storm of newness. I hung out in the classroom with Petra, and at first, she took my hand and dragged me everywhere she wanted to go. In the second week, she let me sit in a corner while she clung to Jane, her teacher. And in the third week, she struck up a friendship with a wee lad who was also new and a bit shell-shocked. She told me on Tuesday that she didn’t need me anymore. And I went off to the car to be sad in private.
School is a tough business for the children. But I’m beginning to think that it’s even tougher for the parents. The all-encompassing early-childhood period is over, and your wee baby begins to move off into the world without you. You’re left missing the child’s company and wondering who the hell you might be now that you’re at the end of almost six years of absorption into mothering as a job and a purpose and a personal identity.
I’m going to have to navigate a move of my own out into the world, it would seem. Which is an exciting, as well as a nerve-wracking prospect.