Moving Up

September heralds a new school year, and my new year’s resolution is to blog more regularly. So here goes.

There was great excitement in our household this morning. At least, I labelled it ‘excitement’ because I remembered just in time to engage in positive parenting. I could just as easily have been witnessing extreme tween nervousness. Nancy, my 10 year old daughter, re-packed her school bag ten times. Her water bottle went in and out of the fridge nine times. She swapped her snack from apple to bread sticks and back again eight times. Seven separate pieces of geometry equipment were counted into her pencil case. She seemed to think that the first day of term merited six teaspoonfuls of jam on her toast (I begged to differ). There were five different hair styles to attempt, four trips to the loo, three engulfing cuddles, two lost sun hats and one newly qualified Year 6 girl to get out of the door by 8.15am. It felt like she was starting a new job, as a newly qualified doctor or lawyer or accountant or similarly responsible and highly coveted role. I watched from the school drive as she headed towards the special Year 6 doors. Her confident stride was that of a hedge fund director. Just as she reached the doors, she stopped, pivoted and ran back into my arms. I held her, just for a minute. We didn’t say anything. Then, as abruptly as she had entered my arms, she left them, resumed her stride and started her day. 

As I walked home, I wondered which Nancy I would pick up from those same Year 6 doors later in the day. Would it be the 22-year-old career woman, the ditzy, darting ten-year-old, the first day four-year-old or anything in between? What would she need from me? And would I be able to provide it? I have forgotten how to parent a four-year-old, I haven’t a clue what parenting a 22-year-old will look like, and I’m only just learning what’s required of a Year 6 mum. Perhaps, in reality, I will need to parent Nancy as who she is, label-less  except for the numerous name tags which identify her as herself, here and now. Parenting books, tools of the trade and mum-time coffee-shop conversations can only ever take us so far. This afternoon, I’m priming myself to look and listen to the individual child in front of me, and take it from there. 

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