Little Meri stood proudly on the threshold of our home wearing her black shiny shoes, her grey skirt, blue cardigan and her hair in a smart pony tail. She smiled and waved for the camera.
“Ahh, she looks lovely,” her mother and I cooed as I took the obligatory photograph for proud grandparents on her first day at school.
Our walk round the corner to her school gates which are no more than four minutes away took a little longer this morning because we had to stop off at the chemists to buy some nail polish remover. She was still sporting a few dabs of bright purple from her summer make up explorations with her mother. We were not sure what the school’s policy on make-up is but we didn’t want little Meri marked out as a rebel before she had even started.
As we arrived in the schoolyard, we heard the chatter from excited and nervous parents:
“Abigail has been asking me all week how many days she has to go to school for…”
“Jonny didn’t get to sleep until 11pm last night he was so worried…”
“Joanne is worried that she’s not in the same class as any of her really close friends from nursery. I’ve asked school if she can move classes…”
The children were fairing a little better although I did see some distinctly quivering lips and clinging onto daddy’s knee.
We deposited Meri into her class. The calm class teacher exuding authority and confidence, “Parents, you are welcome to stay but you can start to leave now if your child is settled. Rest assured you can leave them with us and we will take very good care of them.” A little smile, “I promise.”
Clare and I looked at each other.
“Meri, why don’t you go and play some Lego with your new friends,” I suggested.
She looked at me and at her mum and off she went.
“Result,” I said. “Let’s just back away and give her some room to find her own space.”
Clare and I started backing off. Meri was absorbed in her play.
“That was easy,” I said. But I had spoken too soon. Meri looked up and saw we were moving away. She got up and scampered towards us. “Oh no, “I thought, “We’re going to have a scene.”
Meri came and hugged her mum, “Goodbye Mummy.” She hugged me, “Goodbye Daddy.” And off she went back to her new friends. Clare and I looked at each other. Not only had she settled in straight away, she had pretty much told us both to get lost.
That evening I was tucking Meri into bed. Another milestone successfully accomplished.
“Now I’m a big girl I’m going to school,” she said. I could tell her mind was working away.
“Yes?” I said, waiting for where her train of logic would take us.
“When I’m as big as you are Daddy, will I be going to work?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Will I work in London? I want to work in London.”
“You can work wherever you want to my darling,” I answered. “Daddy has worked all over the world.”
“I want to work in London. I can’t wait to go to work.”
I chuckled, one milestone done with and she was already fast forwarding to one far in the future.
She snuggled into under her duvet and smiled, “When I go to work Daddy, I want to you to take me.”
Maybe not so grown up really.
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