All you parents out there will remember certain big milestones that your child hits and their first day at school is right up there. There’s the uniform trying on, the book bag buying, the endless photos taken as they pose awkwardly and then there are the emotions that flood through you as they walk (or are coerced) into school with their teacher. It’s a huge build-up and a big ‘tick’ off the parenting list of ‘must-dos”.
When our three lovelies came to us the younger two hadn’t been in school for a considerable amount of time. That, coupled with the prospect of my birth children going back to school in September full of their own anxieties due to five and a half months off, lead to the decision that they should attend the key worker/vulnerable bubble at the school they would be going to. All the professionals involved with the children believed that this would be the best thing for them and I also recognise that my sanity was taken into consideration as well!
If saying I was looking forward to them attending is wrong then I don’t want to be right. Homeschooling six children between the ages of 14 and 6 were testing both my teaching abilities and my patience and the thought of them being settled into that routine prior to September was very appealing. So, the paperwork was filled out, the school COVID procedures were explained and we were given a date. I counted down the days. On the morning the breakfast routine was different and both children seemed happy and actually quite eager (my youngest son had done a grand job of building the school up into some kind of candy-floss covered place of child heaven). We drove the 8 miles commute chatting happily, stood in our socially distanced line and then in they went. Smiling, happy, no reservations. I waved, walked back to the car, got in and cried.
The overwhelming feeling of sadness was a huge shock. It was then that I saw (and felt) the tiny slithers of interconnecting emotions which linked my birth children with my foster children. Due to their age and how they had entered our lives, I hadn’t expected to feel the same emotions about their first day of school as I had my own children. It wasn’t their real ‘first day’ and I initially didn’t recognise the significance of them starting school. But sat in my car, I did. I wished I had taken just one more picture, hugged them a little harder and waved a little longer – but they didn’t, they didn’t even look back. And I guess that confidence is our biggest achievement so far.