A letter to my Year 6 Leaver.
Dear Big Lad,
You haven't always been big, you know. You were once so small that you were rushed to hospital amongst hushed gasps and horrified whispers because of your tiny-ness. I knew even then you were going to be a big character and that your alarmingly scrawny baby frame didn't measure up. So I wasn't surprised when the Turkish doctors sent you home with nutrient drops and orders to fill up on formula milk. It turns out that was to be the first way in which I wasn't enough for you.
Even as a toddler, almost every single thing I asked you to do wasn't on your to-do list. Brush teeth? Nah. Hold hands as we cross the road? Don't fancy it. Sit quietly on Mummy's knee as we pretend to all the other mums at the library that we LOVE Singing Story Time? Not a chance in hell.
I always imagined that having a child meant I'd have a little cling-on for life. That you'd thrive on cuddles and snuggles and there'd be nobody like mummy to soothe your sores or calm your chaos. If that's the case then you've kept it quietly to yourself, instead always choosing to show me and the world how maverick you really are. Even on your first day at nursery, you charged your way past all the other parents who had toddlers hanging off them for dear life and within seconds the teacher smiled and shrugged at your Dad, silently saying, 'you may as well be off then'.
You've never been that keen on hugs. Sometimes I put this down to the fact that you were born in a hot climate and when I picked you up as a baby you used to cry with the clammy heat our two close bodies conjured. We even have a photo of the time you spontaneously hugged your Dad in a park in London - it's pride of place on the mantel piece and is testament (at least, to me) that the two of you can, on occasion, find comfort in the warmth of your mutual adoration.
Being a Mum to you for over a decade has been an absolute privilege. If children really do choose their parents in some fantastical, other-worldly plain before bursting into this reality then thank you Big Lad. Thank you for choosing me. I have no idea what you thought I might be able to offer you with my intense propensity for feeling ALL the feels the world has on offer, whilst you like to digitise, organise, list and curate your way through your days.
I guess the trouble came when we started to learn that you couldn't do the same with your emotions. That fear and love and surprise and anger don't like to be boxed, listed or stacked in the same way your toys and books do. We worked really hard on that, didn't we? And, as much as my ego would crumple at the thought, I perhaps haven't been enough for you there either.
But that's ok. I gave all I had and I will keep on at it. I'll always be there to help you make sense of the world. And I'll always be honest when I don't have a bloody clue and we can bow down together at the beautiful, starry mess of life, throw our hands up and say 'We just don't know!'
Because not knowing is actually a great place to be. And here we are in the middle of it right now. This very afternoon, I'm invited to your school assembly because you've got an award that you know nothing about, at your last ever awards assembly of primary school. I don't know what it's for. Or if you'll cringe when you see me at the back of the school hall. Or if I should have perhaps worn waterproof mascara.
And if we look ahead a little further - I still don't bloody know. I don't know what leaving primary school is going to be like for you. I don't know how you're going to find your last real childhood summer. I don't know what you're going to think of secondary school . . . if you'll be liked or accepted or if you'll find your tribe. I don't know if you'll manage the early mornings, or if you'll deal with the amount of homework you're given or how on earth I'm going to pay for your ridiculously extravagant PE kit. I'm living in the land of 'don't know'.
And it's exciting.
Contrary to your standard opinion though, I do actually know a lot of things. I know you're a beautiful and kind young man who puzzles and inspires me in equal measure. I know you're the most AMAZING big brother, despite all the mean (but incredibly accurate) impressions you do of your little bro. I know you've tried really hard to do your best at school, but I also know you've been able to admit it when you're wrong or bored or just plain exhausted.
I know you're passionate and reliable and generous and considerate and you know how to practice gratitude. I know you're wearing proper men's clothes now and that you look good in virtually anything. I know you're mad about The Beatles and Queen and Oasis and Muse and that you'll gladly share this passion for music with anybody who gives you the time of day. I know that the sweet tooth you had as a toddler is still going strong and that capability of having an almighty tantrum over a cupcake is still simmering gently beneath the surface of your smile.
Big Lad, what I love most about you is that you are who you say you are. You don't pretend. You don't change your behaviour to match other people's expectations. You say and do what's in your heart on a daily basis and that, my gorgeous boy, is a trait far more of us adults could do with. I think, if you ever encounter a bully at secondary school (or beyond), you won't say woefully to yourself, 'What's wrong with me?' I think you'll take a deep breath, stand strong and say 'What's wrong with them?'
So as we move deeper into this land of 'Don't Know', know this. I love you. In all senses of the word. Every bit of you. And for as long as you want me, I will joyfully be not enough for you. We are in this together.
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