Children grow up so fast, don’t they?
Over the past couple of days, my Facebook and Instagram feeds have been full of back-to-school photos taken by proud parents. Most showed smiling children in pristine uniforms. Some featured kids who were more reluctant to pose for this milestone moment. In many cases, it was not just the first day of the school year but the first day of school full-stop.
None of this was surprising. It’s the same every year.
What did surprise me, however, was how little emotional impact our three children’s return to school had on me. In previous years this day has been a big deal, particularly when we have had a child starting in reception. But not this time. Kara started school in 2016 – and she was the last of our three to do so.
I’m not sure why I felt so … indifferent this time around. Perhaps it’s because we only returned from our big summer holiday on Monday night. Or maybe it’s because I was hurrying out, distracted by it being my first day back at work.
In truth, though, I think I was a bit blasé about it all. Been there. Done that. Fussed about taking the obligatory kids-in-uniform picture outside our front door and then posting it to Instagram, without which the whole event is obviously incomplete.
Note to self: it’s still the same scuffed, beaten-up door as every previous year’s back-to-school shot. Replace it for next year so at least the photo looks different.
Actually, we don’t need to replace the door to guarantee a different image next September. With Isaac starting Year 6 – Toby is in Year 4, Kara Year 2 – this is the last of three years when all the kids are in the same school. Next September our eldest will be embarking on a new adventure at secondary school. So while yesterday was routine, next year will bring both the excitement and trepidation of major change.
Time flies, doesn’t it?
It seems like only a few short months since Isaac’s first first-day-at-school. And yet here we are, entering his final year of primary school.
It’s easy to get lured into the old back-to-school routines and become blasé about the familiarity and repetitiveness. Buying slightly too large shoes and clothes and affixing name labels. Trying to remember where we stowed the lunchboxes away back in July. But next year the established order will be torn up and nothing will be the same again. Another seven years beyond that, assuming he does A-levels, and we may well be waving Isaac off to university wondering where the last 18 years went. Then he’ll get a job. Move out. Marry and have kids, maybe.
Okay, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. Nonetheless, it’s a sobering thought to think that we are closer to that potential first-day-at-uni than the day he was born. The last 10½ years has flown by; the next eight will pass faster still.
Our kids won’t stay kids forever. Already Isaac has clearly started along the path towards becoming a teenager. Our boy will be a young man before we know it.
Best make the most of it while it lasts, before those back-to-school moments end forever.