It didn’t take a Freudian wise arse to work out why I was busy googling miniature Schnauzer puppies. As the image of one popped up on my screen, at the same time as my smallest cherub, the similarities were only too plain to see. Gorgeous big brown devoted eyes, full of unconditional love and adoration. Cute rufflesome tops and an air of energetic youthful joy. It was time for my smallest hound to leave home and join big school. And I was going to miss him very much indeed.
The wider implications of my youngest and last child’s departure into mainstream school, had been building in my mind for some time. Somehow the physical departure of him to legally obligated education became synonymous with the end of my fertile years, impending old age and death. “Glad to see you’ve kept it all in perspective then,” said one wise friend.
I have to pre-empt this tale by explaining that my child was entirely stable, rational and indeed looking forward to going to school. If he had at any point shown nerves or worry I would have immediately transformed into Mrs Topsy Turvy. But he didn’t so instead I turned into Mrs Sobbing Screwball.
It didn’t help that in the month leading up to him joining school we had been given the unique opportunity to be together everyday. In reception class they stagger pupil’s arrivals and we had landed one of the last spots. As such, with his sisters at school, we indulged in some glorious one-on-one time. We hit the park, searched for early conkers, ate lunch at the new bistro in town. We visited museums, brunched in Covent Garden, laughed at booby jokes and spent quite a few days at the zoo watching the new baby gorilla. My boy is great company and we had a brilliant time hanging out together.
In many ways he is my perfect man. He is my chivalrous knight, who likes to carry heavy things and open doors for me. He is my court jester, who laughs loudest at my jokes and loves to wiggle out a salsa to make me laugh in return. He is my confidante: we agree who is crazy and who sells a good burger. He is my comforter. He never seems to tire of kissing and hugging me and lets me sniff him regularly. He misses me when I leave and cheers when I return. He loves me no matter what I do, weigh or wear. He appreciates my dance moves and thinks I am a brilliant artist. I wept at the thought of no longer being able to spend days with my loyal companion.
But inevitably it came. On the day school starts they go in just after lunch, as a gentle introduction. This meant that I had a few more hours to kill. Luckily a fellow mum needed advice on wedding outfits so I was able to distract myself for a few hours. Then, hand in hand, as we have for many months, we made our way to the supermarket. As is our routine my boy fetches the shopping basket and carries it for me until his hands are hurting. Then I hold the basket and we browse the sandwiches for about three minutes before both settling for a tuna and sweetcorn sarnie. A small debate about a suitable treat ensues and we settle for some fruit and a biscuit.
We headed home, quietly ate our lunch together and then sat on the sofa for a quick last view of Numberjacks on the telly. As we sat there I felt a small hand came to rest on my knee. Then his whole body leaned on me and small fingers worked their way under mine. As I sniffed away at the back of his head it became became very very damp. My heart hurt.
“Mummy you are really going to have to try and stop crying,” said a small pragmatic voice. I agreed that I needed to try harder. Minutes later, with that clearly not working, he came up with a masterplan: “I will give you penguin. That will help,” he said.
Thank God for wise friend who at that moment telephoned to see how it was going. She had thought that he was starting in the morning and was, I think, anticipating that by now I would be in chilled-out decompression mode. What she got instead was a hyperventilating freakoid.
Laughing her head off at me she promised to remind me of this emotional breakdown over a glass of wine later in the week and then happily distracted me with talk of workplace shennanigans.
By the time I put down the phone it was time to grab his school bag and run.
We made it into school and my boy raced off to find his peg and some dinosaurs. As I turned my red, fetchingly swollen face towards him and asked him if he wanted me to stay, he made the only sensible decision. “No Mummy, you go. See you later,” he said and ran off to play with sand.
I made my way back along the road, dark glasses on, silently weeping. Once I’d closed my front door I wailed like a banshee. It felt like, and was, a full stop to a very certain and very special part of my life.
And then the next day came. It was fine. He was happy, with a lovely teacher and making new friends. I was peeing solo, enjoying silence and beginning to do some writing. Here we are. Life goes on. What’s next I wonder.