savour the pre-school years
I sent Che off on his first overnight camp today. Another parenting milestone I was hesitant to reach. Personally, I feel like it’s far too early in his school life to be doing this but apparently it’s quite normal for Year 3’s to hop on a bus with their PJs and a change of clothes and travel a few hours away to explore the city. He’ll have an amazing time, of that I’m sure, but still, it feels like we just got one step closer to being all grown up. Last night I fed him a cup of broth (he obliged without too much complaint) and filled him up on garlic-rich spaghetti bolognese. I made sure I packed extra singlets and socks and a handwritten note so he can read it before bed. I tucked a little box of smarties in his bag, too, because school excursions are the best excuse for special sweet treats.
Last week I picked up Poet’s enrolment form for school. She’s bubbling with excitement and questions, so enthusiastic to start kindergarten and make new friends. The form is on the fridge, no less complete than it was the day I picked it up. I’m stalling, partly because I loathe filling out forms but mostly because once I hand it in it’s all very official. If anything though, it’s a potent reminder to treasure our days with no plans, when she’s home with me and we draw or go to the library or enjoy babyccinos at the cafe.
I know my kids are growing up. I know that because I’ve had to increase the amount of food I buy, their winter pants are getting too short and I now spend three afternoons a week on the extra-curricular activity drive. I find myself occasionally considering the options for high-school which may seem far-fetched but I figure a little preparation can only be a good thing.
As I sort through the plethora of school notes that come home, check over spelling words and listen to tales from the playground, I sometimes find myself longing for the simplicity of the stay-at-home days. They may have been a little relentless at times but my goodness they were good! No school bells dictating my days, so little scheduling and hardly any routine. We did as we pleased most days, oblivious to our luck. The firstborn definitely has that advantage; no broken sleep or school drop offs and pick ups for them!
The days before school are peppered with lazy mornings and sandwiches cut into triangles, episodes of Play School and spontaneous park visits. There was coffee for me and apples cut into quarters for them, banana bread in the oven and storytime at the library.
I miss the uninterrupted rhythm of that time.
Today, with Che at camp and Poet at pre-school, I sat in the sun with Percy and watched him toddle around the back garden; smelling leaves, picking grass, banging a little pot on the washing basket. I savour those few hours between drop off and pick up where I can indulge in the nourishing rhythm of home days, just like before.
Those years before school…they are fleeting.