I always knew PJ’s first day at school would be different to his brother’s first day. Not only because he is the second child. Not only because they are such different boys. But because part of me will always believe that PJ is an old soul. He has been here before, done this before, he has got this.
And that is exactly what it felt like as we walked into PJ’s classroom for the first time last week. Like he had done this before. He settled his things without fuss. Put on his name tag and got down to the business of being a prep in a way that seemed he had walked through this routine a hundred times before. We arrived early on the first day. Preps had a late start time on the first day and since we still had to drop off AJ at normal time, PJ and I had forty five minutes to hang out together in his class on that first morning.
I kept my distance. Watching him move from one activity to the next. One space of the classroom to the next. Saying hello to friends he had made through orientation. Growing in confidence as each moment drew closer to saying good bye. With five minutes to go till start time I asked him if I should go? “Stay a little longer Mummy.” He said, not in sadness, but the room was till full of parents and I think he wasn’t quite ready to part. When the room did empty and parents filed one by one outside I lingered a little longer on the veranda just to watch him. My little baby all grown up at his first day of school, sitting on the floor playing Lego like first days meant nothing but new adventures and lots of excitement.
There were no tears that morning. Only a tightness in my throat and a mind that was distracted all day thinking about him, worrying about him. Was he ok? Did he make friends? Was he alone during break? When I picked him up that afternoon he was a bundle of tired happiness. So excited about his first day, so tired from his first day and bursting with so many stories to share. The tightness in my throat seemed to soften a little, the worries ease. We had made it. First day done and dusted.
But something happens after a first day. Another day wakes and with it come hurdles you often overlook in the shadows of that big first day. PJ started school knowing no one except his big brother AJ and all of AJ’s friends. While PJ had made friends in class, these friends all had older siblings at the school, so the moment the doors opened for break PJ’s new friends ran off to play with these siblings and all week my little boy had been finding himself alone.
AJ has made me heart swell and turn somersaults with his big brother love and instinct kicking straight in. AJ marches over to prep every break to check on PJ and if he finds him alone AJ swoops in and looks after PJ during break. Now while I know this is wonderful and reassuring that PJ isn’t spending break alone. I know this can’t last forever. PJ needs to make his own friends and play with them. So the throat tightens again. The worries settle in, like curling up with a good book on a cold winters night. I have a feeling this story is going to take some time before we reach its end.
So I stand back and watch the words being written on the first pages of the book that is PJ’s to write. Watching over his shoulder, wanting to rush in and write the words for him, fix all his worries and heart ache. But I can’t. This is his story. His moments. I can only trust that he has got this. He will figure it all out. In his own time.
And each night as I watch him in the shower, singing his new songs about slithering snakes and marching ants, as he traces new words into the steam on the shower screen I need to find the strength and trust that even though second days can be harder than the first, together we have got this.
Did you have a little one start school this year?