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Becoming You

24-09-2013 · Sara Gibbings

From time to time I write things for my kids. Not for them to read now, as they are too small to understand them and only want to play with dinosaurs and cars, but for them to read when they are older, teenagers looking for guidance, or perhaps even when they become parents themselves.

My eldest son, aged three, just started school and here’s what I wrote to him after his first day. I think many of you will be able to relate to it.

“Dearest Adam,

Today was a big day! It was your first ever day at school.

We have been getting ready for this day for ages – buying the uniform, visiting the school, telling you all about what would happen – but nothing can really prepare either a parent or a child for the mix of nerves and excitement of that first day.

AdamWhen you’re all grown up you probably won’t remember today, this moment when you started to live your own life, started carving out your own path in the world, but you handled it with such grace and bravery that I wanted to write it down, just in case there are days down the road when you need to remind yourself of how fantastic you really are.

We got up early- 6:45 am -so we didn’t have to rush and you were so eager to get dressed in your blue shorts, yellow t-shirt and yellow socks. You looked gorgeous and of course, the obligatory photos were taken.

As you sat on your chair having a breakfast of ham, cheese and toast, you said to your little brother, “Dani, you cannot go to school with me. You are a baby and I’m all grown up now”.

Dani ignored you, but was to cry for the whole day, he missed you so much.

You chatted happily in the car as we hit rush hour traffic and ran down the hill to school when we got there, almost falling over and hitting your head on the floor, but I managed to catch you just in time.

I had a quick panic and thought to myself, “I won’t be there to catch you if you fall later on today” and I knelt down next to you and told you that you’d have to watch out for yourself today as I wouldn’t be around.

“Yes Mama”. Your chin wobbled as you’d gotten a fright.

Once in school, your eyes grew wide like saucers; this was it! We got your smock on and you sat having a sandwich with some other early arrival kids. As we chatted to the teacher I watched you, big eyes and very quiet. You were nervous and trying to make sense of it all but you didn’t make a fuss, or cry or hang on to us.

Like ripping off a plaster quickly, we said goodbye to you in a hurry and I gave you a kiss on the head. Outside, I almost fell apart, shedding a tear into your dad’s arms. I couldn’t take my mind of you all day. What were you doing? Did you like the kids? The food? Could you manage the loo alright? Would you be too hot? Too cold? Too tired?

When you came home with your Dad you had a big grin on your face and said you had a great day.

But then you said that you’d felt lonely in the playground and had been crying and I felt my heart breaking for you.

“But then a girl and boy came up and talked to me and I was happy again”, you beamed.

That night, after you went to bed, I called my mum and had a proper cry. You see, it’s an emotional thing to raise kids, because you raise them to leave, to make their own lives, and it starts so very young.

I’m sure you’ll have your share of bad days but today was a huge success, not because you liked it, because liking stuff is the easy part. Today was a huge success because you began making your own choices and started becoming your own person.

You were scared but you decided to be brave, you were lonely but accepted friendship when it was offered to you, you didn’t know how things worked so you asked for help; it wasn’t all perfect but you decided to make the most of it.

That is all any of us can do in our daily lives, but seeing you do it for the very first time was really wonderful, and I think it made me a little braver too.
Love you so much,

S x”

Sara Gibbings

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