She has a buddy from Year 6 who helps her with the daunting task of choosing what to eat for lunch in the big hall. I asked the 4 year old what her buddy was like. ‘She’s nice and she's fat’ she replied. When I met the buddy a few days later I was greeted by a normal sized child. Her cheeks were slightly rounded but she certainly wasn’t of the lardy persuasion. I now wonder how the 4 year old describes me to her new school friends and teachers … ‘My mum is a nice enormous elephant’.
The 2 year old started pre-school in the same week. Pre-school is slightly more traumatic as it’s the first time that most children have been away from their parents for a lengthy time. I walked into pre-school and was hit by a cacophony of wailing children clawing at their mothers as they tried to sprint towards the exit. As I filled in the emergency contact forms the 2 year old wandered off to play. When it was time for me to leave I had trouble locating him, but he was busying himself in the home corner. I gave him a kiss, said goodbye and left. I wandered reluctantly towards the door, turning to make sure he wasn’t chasing me. No, he was offering another howling child a plastic croissant.
The whole thing was an anti-climax. I don’t know what I expected. A little part of me wanted them both to cry and hang on to my trousers whilst I tried to prise their fingers away. I wanted a teacher to hold them back as I sprinted, coat tails flapping in the wind, for the door. I wanted to walk away feeling guilty for abandoning my children, tears streaking my cheeks, wondering if I was doing the right thing. I’d packed a whole packet of bloody tissues!
Does this mean that I’ve done a good job in raising children who are independent and happy to be left with complete strangers (albeit in an educational setting)? Or is it the psychological scarring of watching their mother dance to ‘The Bear Necessities’ naked. Is it because when they stuck raisins up their noses (yes, they have both done it, independently and the 4 year old twice) they still remember me coming toward them with tweezers whilst their father held them down?
I think in all honesty they are just relieved to be with normal people for a few hours each day.