My son started school on 14th September 2005. It was a Wednesday and in that first week he had to do only two half days all week. He wasn’t quite 4 and a quarter. He was tiny in age 3 school trousers. His brother was only 1. And his Mummy was six months (to the day) off giving birth.
Fast forward nearly seven years and he’s just about to leave that school and move on.
Back in 2005, we thought he was fairly bright and not the most sociable of kids. And we were right. He was.
He learned to read pretty well. Writing was more of a struggle for him. Between being a summer birthday and being left-handed, he was slow to get to grips with writing. Throughout year 1 and 2 his handwriting was a big issue. It was illegible and he wrote so slowly he hardly got a thing down on paper. His academic ability was being hampered by his inability to write.
And it’s still an issue now. It’s a combination of reluctance and inability. And the more he’s encouraged (or nagged) the less likely he is to do it. But he got Level 4 in his English SATs. The fact he got Level 5 in maths and science may mean it’s still letting him down a bit.
During his first three years at school he had friends, but no-one special. While he was in the infants, we had most of the boys in his class round for tea. And I wasn’t that keen on some of them. They all came round for his 6th birthday party and it was the longest two hours of my life.
But when he moved into year 3, the classes were mixed and he met a lovely group of boys. They are friendly and fun and caring and polite. I am so happy that they are his friends.
He’s had some brilliant teachers over the years and all but the one not-so-good one are still at the school. Some of them have now taught my younger children too.
In years 5 and 6, my boy really blossomed. He is confident and popular – nor just with his friendship group, but with other kids in the year. He is enthusiastic, opinionated and a little bit quirky. His teachers adore him. He is chair of the pupil council and takes his responsibilities very seriously. He was part of the group of pupils which organised the school’s Olympic week.
Now we’re coming to the end. We’ve had the last Christmas performance, the last school trip, the last violin lesson and the last school report. He’s done his SATs and he’s ready to move on. It’s an emotional time. But he seems to be taking it in his stride.
Mostly, it’s an emotional time for ME. I get a lump in my throat every time we reach a ‘final’ milestone. Rationally, I don’t know WHY it’s such a big deal for me, but it is. My biggest baby is all grown up.
This evening was extra emotional – the leavers’ play – Goodbye My Friend. Yep, you can guess what that was about – a play about leaving primary school. Lots of funny stuff and funny songs about dinner ladies policing the playground, stressed out teachers and TAs clearing up when kids ‘don’t quite make it on time’. But it was an unashamed way of making people CRY.
On the way there my son said ‘Some of the girls will cry, maybe even some of the boys’. It was OK until the very last scene when one of the boys said he didn’t want it to be his last day and then they went into the final song ‘Goodbye, my friend, it’s not the end’ (that’s not in the Spice Girls tune you – well I – are imagining). A couple of the boys behind my son were wiping their eyes. Oh, how hilarious, taking the piss, messing about, acting, whatever. But, no. They were really crying. BOYS.
And it spread. Girls were crying. And more boys. And parents. I can’t stand to see children cry, especially BOYS. My son wasn’t crying and I didn’t want him to see ME crying. Then the headteacher did a quick speech about what an amazing Year 6 they are and then MADE THEM DO IT AGAIN. It was a car crash. Like when the winner of XFactor has just been announced and they have to sing their winning song again. Kids crying, kids laughing, parents crying. And very little singing. Frankly, I was a wreck. This was two hours ago and I’m still feeling fragile.
And now there’s only two days left at school! (Sniff) He and his friends are going to different schools and nothing will ever be the same.