I've felt all a bit chokey and achey today. First day nerves, perhaps. After six weeks of settling into our new house and enjoying long stretches of days exploring our surroundings and just hanging out here at home, all of it feeling like a glorious long holiday, today feels like the first day of real life. It was Lola's first day at her new preschool.
It was a good break, those six weeks, and my girl was good to be around. It was the longest stretch of holidays for her since she began preschool/day care two years ago, and we really fell into a nice rhythm, to the point where I wondered if we really needed to send her off again.
But she was excited. Excited to be meeting new kids and making friends her own age in this new place. Little sisters are fun, but only so far... She was worried that she might cry when I left her there, but she didn't. She clung to me at first, explaining, "I'm just a little bit shy, that's all." But the truth is, she's not. She's the most outgoing, sociable, friendly kid I know.
A year ago, we thought Lola would be going off to school this year. She's a July baby, her birthday only a few weeks before the cut-off. It was a big decision for us to make, perhaps the biggest so far, and I've often wished someone could've just told us the 'right' thing to do. Several of her friends who are the same age start 'big school' this week, but we made the choice, in the end, to take another year. A lot of it was about giving her whatever advantage might come about by not being the youngest in her class (even at five and a half, she won't be the oldest). A large part was to give us a year, as a family, to settle into this new lifestyle without having to worry about school routines just yet. But the biggest part, for me at least, was wanting to hang onto her for a bit longer. I loved school, back in the day, and I know she will too. But they'll have her for 13 years. I'm keeping her for one more!
Of course, however firm my convictions, I'm still left with niggles and doubts. There are kids in her new preschool who are much younger. When I went to collect her today, they were all sitting in a circle singing a song and taking turns galloping around. It kind of looked like baby stuff. I imagined her in a little school uniform sitting up at a desk learning to form her letters on the page, and wondered, just briefly, if that might have been the right choice...
Big sigh. There's no harm in another year of singing and galloping. Is there?
I picked her up early today, just in case. I needn't have bothered. Her teachers assured me that she'd had a wonderful time. When she got home, she raced into the GM's arms and said, "Daddy, I had a lovely day."