The day you clutch your little love’s hand and lead her into the school grounds on her first day of Big School is eventful, to say the least.
But nothing compares to the feels you experience when you walk out that school gate again, without that little hand tucked safely into yours.
Here are the emotional stages you might go through on this first, unforgettable day.
Stage one: This is it!
You’ve bought the uniform, the shoes, the pencil case and you’ve filled it with new Textas.
You and your little school starter have also been chatting about this day for a while now. She’s excited and keen to get dressed. But all of a sudden, you are overcome with the realisation that this kindy cutie, who is toting her giant school bag on her back, was not so long ago your teeny-tiny bubba.
You try to hide your tears and instead flash her a smile. It’s her day. A new chapter in her life, but waaaah!
Stage two: Snap 10,000 photos
In an effort to not forget how sweet and full of optimism, but also nerves, she looks on her first day, you snap more photos than your phone has storage for.
The uniform is swimming on her and her dorky school hat looks huge. While making her pose and smile over and over, time sneaks up on you. So, like every other school parent in the world, the words, “Quickly, we’ll be late” spill from your lips.
Stage three: Play it cool
As you walk through the playground and the sea of uniforms, you have to remind yourself to breathe. Soon she will join that line of kids also wearing the velcro-strapped school shoes, because they are still too little for laces, and life as you both know it will be over.
Stage four: Pass me a tissue
After lots of cuddles and kisses, the line moves and she’s inside the classroom with the little tables and chairs.
And those tears you’ve been holding in? Well, they spill out. You can’t play it cool any longer.
And neither can the other parents, with some heading to the school hall for ‘tea and tissues’.
Stage five: Well, this feels odd
Then it’s time to leave school and while on the one hand you feel a new sense of freedom – you can actually grab a coffee without having to unbuckle her from the car seat – on the other, you feel like you are missing a limb.
It’s not a good or bad feeling, it’s just new and strange.
Stage six: I hope she’s happy
Then the rest of the day is spent sending her happy vibes.
You fret that she’s struggling with that plastic sandwich container, that she won’t realise you’ve torn her muesli bar wrapper a little already so she can get into it easily, that she may not make a friend to sit with, or that, gulp, she’s missing you.
So you keep looking at the clock. You don’t want to be late picking her up on her first day. Then before you can hang out that other load of washing or send that email, it’s time to get her.
Stage seven: Limb returned
When you see her smiling little face, beaming with pride, as she spots you in the crowd of parents at pick-up, you finally relax. You know she’s had a good day. Tomorrow might be different, but she survived her first day, and so did you.
Then when she curls her small hand into yours, you feel whole again.
Now, THIS feels normal.