Tomorrow.

Tomorrow.  For most people, an ordinary Tuesday.  But not for me and B.  Tomorrow I will wave my wee girl off at the school gate for the first time.  Tomorrow feels like the start of a new chapter, a chapter that will see her spend more time in the company of other people than she does with me, a chapter that sees her never need me in quite the same way again.

How did we get here so quickly?  When I was pregnant with B, people told me time and time again how quickly kids grow up.  But you don’t appreciate just how quickly until you’re living it.  It feels like the last four years and almost nine months have gone by in a heartbeat.  And now my clever, hilarious, bossy, gorgeous chatterbox is ready for school.  But what if I’m not ready?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for her.  I’m excited that she’s excited.  I see how animated she gets telling me about something new she’s learned at nursery, I see how much satisfaction she gets out of writing a new word, and I know she will thrive in the classroom where every day is filled with new discoveries.  I’m excited for the new friends she will make, for the opportunities that school will give her, and I’m excited to see her grow as a person.

But at the same time, the growing up scares me.  I know I have to let her spread her wings and make her own way in the world, even though she is only four.  But it is hard.  I don’t think I have ever been this emotional as a parent.  I can’t help worrying.  What if she struggles to make friends?  What if she doesn’t like her school dinner?  What if other kids are mean to her?  What if she falls over in the playground and hurts herself?  There are a million what ifs, stretching way into the future.

But all I can do is hope that we have brought her up, and will continue to bring her up, to be able to handle whatever life throws at her.  And to know that on the days when it feels like she can’t, that she can always turn to us for support and for love.

I suppose that’s my greatest wish as B grows up.  That she will always come to me when she needs to – to share in her triumphs, when she needs advice or a shoulder to cry on, when she needs to know that someone is in her corner, fighting her battles right alongside her.  And I hope that she will know every single day how proud I am of her.

And if tomorrow is the start of a new chapter, then I guess today is the end of a chapter too.  So let me just say how lucky I feel to have been part of the first chapter of my little lady’s life.  I often tell B that I’ve loved her from the second I knew she was in my tummy.  I’ve watched her grow from a teeny tiny newborn, to a clingy toddler who wanted mummy to do everything, to an inquisitive and energetic four year old who most definitely knows her own mind.  I’ve watched her adapt to life as a proud big sister, and she amazes me constantly.  And although I can guarantee I’ll be crying my eyes out as I walk home from school tomorrow morning, I cannot wait for the next stage of our adventure together.

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Activity Overload?!

For someone who is only four, B has a pretty busy wee life.  As well as two full days in nursery (from 9am til 5pm), she also has a ballet class, a gymnastics class and a drama class.  She’s learning to ski, and although she doesn’t have proper swimming lessons, hubby is teaching her to swim and they tend to go to the pool once a week.  Add into that playdates, trips to the library/park/garden centre, it’s a wonder we have time just to hang out at home!!  I do think it’s important to encourage interests and hobbies from an early age, but how much is too much?

I’ve been very conscious for the last couple of months that things will change once she starts school.  Going from two days a week at nursery to five days a weeks at school (albeit shorter days) will be a big change for her, and I expect for the first term at least she will be pretty exhausted.  She’ll have homework and new friends to get to know, playdates, birthday parties, existing friends to try and fit in as well.  Something will have to give.  But what?

The first decision we had to make was about her dancing.  I will confess to encouraging her dancing, because it was my ‘thing’ when I was younger.  I did ballet, tap and Highland until I was about 10, and I did Scottish Country Dancing from the age of 6 until I was 17, and actually qualified as a teacher!  Anyway, when we got back from Center Parcs in May, we had a letter from the dance school about classes after the summer holidays.  B is currently in the pre-school ballet class, so obviously a move to the P1/2 class makes sense.  However, the letter said that “most children” choose to do two types of dancing – ballet and either tap or jazz.  Hmmm, well the dance school would say that, at more than £6 for a half hour lesson!!  I didn’t even really give it much consideration.  B’s current class is on a Tuesday afternoon, and the P1/2 class runs straight after the pre-school one, and we will probably have to go straight from school.  Another class on the same day would mean B not getting home until almost 6pm, which is a long day if she’s been at school since before 9am.  It’s also pretty expensive – not just the cost of the class, but the outfit and shoes, costumes for shows, exams and all these things will soon mount up.  So we’re sticking just with ballet (so are her friends who go to the same class, so I don’t know who these “most children” are!!).

Next up, gymnastics.  B has been going to gymnastics for just over a year now.  She does a little bit of badge work every week, and now has four badges, then the rest of the 45 minute class is kind of free play around the gym equipment – balancing beams, trampolines, climbing stuff, plus mats for forward rolls and stuff.  There are two ladies who supervise, but apart from the badge work bit they don’t ‘teach’ the kids anything as such.  B loved it when we first started going, but recently has found it a bit boring – repetitive I guess.  She was offered a place at the next class up, but it’s at 3.40pm on a Wednesday – the centre is right at the other side of town, and it would be a major rush to get there from school, so we said no thanks.  I didn’t think B would be too fussed, but the last couple of weeks before the holidays, they were taken through to the “big girl’s gym” with all the proper gym equipment, and she got to jump in the pits which she thought was super exciting, and now she is really keen on sticking at it!! I’m sure we could probably find a class on a Saturday, but that would mean giving up drama.

We started taking B to drama at the start of this year, partly because she loved the Xmas show she did at nursery last year, and partly to see if it would give her a little bit more confidence, as she was quite shy.  It’s an hour on a Saturday, and there are two things I really like about it.  The first is that it’s a ‘pay as you go’ affair – you don’t have to pay for a whole term in advance, so if we’re away for a weekend, or if she has a birthday party or is not well, it really doesn’t matter.  The second is that I tend to leave A at home with hubby, which means I get an hour to sit in the café and read my book!!  😉  But the main thing of course is that B really enjoys it.  There’s singing, dancing, dressing up, games, and if she stuck with it, she would have the chance to take part in shows.  I’m not a pushy mum at all (at least I really hope I’m not!!) but B loves singing and prancing about, and I want to encourage her to enjoy those things before she’s at an age where she’s self conscious about it.

Because drama is just a drop in class, she sometimes misses it to go to a skiing lesson at the dry slope near our house.  Skiing is very much hubby’s thing.  He was brought up very close to Ben Nevis and could go skiing every weekend during the winter.  He’s tried to teach me; it almost ended in divorce!!  I’m too old and too scared – if we ever went on a winter holiday I’d be sticking to the après ski!  Anyway, B absolutely loves it and is actually very good.  She’s had several private lessons now, and actually has her own skis and kit!  She could join the kids’ ski club which I think you sign up for in blocks of 12 weeks, but hubby seems to think the private lessons are still the way to go for now, probably once every four or five weeks.  While it holds absolutely no interest for me whatsoever, I think it’s great that she will have the opportunity to learn as a child.

The other thing I’ve put B’s name down for is Rainbows.  There was no such thing as Rainbows when I was a kid, but I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide.  The one I have her name down for is at the community centre beside her school, so I’m hoping it will give her a chance to socialise with some of the girls from her class (she doesn’t go to the school nursery so will only know one or two kids when she starts P1).  She has to be 5 before she starts though, so that won’t be as soon as she starts school.  Although now I come to think of it. it may actually clash with her ballet day.  Hmmm, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

So that gives us ballet and eventually Rainbows on school days, and drama and possibly skiing on weekends.  I really think this is plenty when she is going to have to adjust to the school routine, and if it looks like being too much for her then we will rethink.

I would love to know what other people’s pre-schoolers and school age children do outside of school.  Do you think we do too much?  Not enough?!  Would love to hear your views!

 

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