Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Do you remember your first day at school? I do. I remember the smooth grey desks and the undersized chairs that didn’t seem so undersized at the time. I remember feeling panicked, until a little girl approached and told me her name was Kate. I told her my name was Kate too. The rest is history.
I don’t remember my mother on that day though, didn’t consider how she felt. She told me last week that on that day, once she had dropped me off, she returned home and whiled my absence away on the swing, cuddling our dog and crying.
Today was Puppychild’s first day at school.
All dressed up in her tiny uniform, slightly too small but hugely excited, her schoolbag full of brightly coloured books and sandwiches with cheese-strings on the side, she approached the throng of schoolchildren nervously, grasping my hand tightly. Madness and chaos in the playground as families gathered, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that chaos is always fair in its randomness.
I noticed an almost imperceptible squeeze as she grasped my fingers tight, then she let go. The void was so obvious all of a sudden as I watched her walk away from me, it was like removing the nappy from a chimpanzee and releasing it into the wild.
She stood still for a few minutes just staring around her, she smiled at the boys and waved politely at the girls, but nobody came over to talk to her. Instead of being consumed by paranoia, she instead began to chase around after a small bunch of children and just like that, she was at one with them. I couldn’t do that.
A woman ran past me clutching a tissue to her tear-stained face.
The teacher ushered the smalls to their seats and Puppychild found a small kid with a head full of bouncy curls and they began to play shop. I took a picture and walked away.
I would so love to be a fly on the wall in that classroom right now, but I know it’s none of my business. This is her life now, it’s not for me to know. My job is to find something else to do and nurture from a distance, just me and my dog.