The Girl at the beach

Is she ready for school?

The Girl will have travelled about 2.464 billion miles around the sun by the time she starts school in a few weeks.

This figure does not include the number of miles trekked to find toilets at the least convenient time whenever we’re out and about, but I reckon you could probably double it and be in the right ball park.

Thinking about numbers like these gives me an immense amount of comfort, as perspective helps me reflect on how far she’s come.

It’s easy for parents to miss this, as you’re so close that gradual changes over time are hard to spot day-to-day.

The Girl made an owl at a summer clubThe classic ones – talking, walking, toilet training, and making that finger popping sound with your mouth – are all celebrated and remembered.

But as they get nearer school age, they seem fewer and farther between.

Then suddenly they’re wearing a uniform and walking into school leaving you standing at the gate wondering where the hell the last few years have gone.

I was a bit nervous about this next step as she’s our youngest, so I will no longer have a toddler/pre-school-er. I’ll have two schoolchildren.

It’s not just that this fact ages me a bit more (having kids does that in and of itself), but it’s a proper, cliched, end-of-an-era landmark.

As she was a June baby, she’s going to be one of the younger, littler ones. I also suspect she’s inherited some of my northern mining stock genes as she’s not exactly a giant…

Until pretty recently, she was always quite clingy and nervous in unfamiliar situations. Even around people she’d met before. But in the last few months – in no small part helped by her key worker at nursery – she’s really come out of her shell and started to show others her funny, intelligent and stubborn character, that we see all the time at home (too much of the latter for my liking sometimes…).

When she was born, I had what I suppose is quite common fear that given how much love I felt for The Boy when he arrived, how could I feel the same about another person entering the family?

Obviously it took about one squillionth of a second from seeing her come into the world for that fear to evaporate – you have double the love, not to mention twice as much worry, fear, anxiety, fun, cuddles and waits for them to get off the loo.

I had, and still have, some worries about how to raise her well. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve never been a small girl, so am always questioning whether I’m doing the right thing.

The Girl chilling at Dunelm

I do not want to push stereotypes (pink, princesses, dolls etc) on her – if she wants to do them, that’s cool, but I’ll always let her choose between a car and a doll and don’t care which she chooses, as long as she’s happy.

This approach seems to be working as, quite frankly, she is awesome.

I think worrying and constantly questioning myself about what I’m doing is helping me avoid messing up too much.

That’s not to say I won’t worry about her starting school as there’s still plenty for my anxiety to feed on: will she make friends; will her teachers expect her to do as well as her big brother; will there be girl/boy divisions; will she expect me to try to do her hair in fancy ways; will I have to endure Biff, Chip and Kipper again!!!

But the changes I’ve seen in the last few months make we feel more confident that the strong, caring, thoughtful little girl I know is ready for the challenges ahead.

And, given I’ll help her with her reading regardless of what god-awful books she comes home with, I think it’s not just my little girl that’s growing up, it’s probably me a bit too.

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