Cork mum: My son's first day at school will be an emotional one

This week, schools are returning after the summer break and it can be a particularly emotional time for parents who are dropping their children off at the school gate for the very first time. Here, DEBORAH HICKEY tells us how she is feeling about her little boy starting ‘big’ school
Cork mum: My son's first day at school will be an emotional one
Deborah Hickey and her son Finn.

SCHOOL bag — tick. Uniform — tick. Books covered — tick. My small boy is starting big school and the preparations have been going on since early in the summer.

As we go through the list of things to do and get, it looks like everything is ready... well, almost everything. It turns out that I’m not half as ready as I thought I was going to be and as the big day draws closer, I am becoming increasingly emotional about it.

Finn has already attended creche and pre-school so it isn’t new to either of us for him to spend time away from home in a learning environment with other children. Big school is a significantly bigger milestone though, and he is excited and eager and ready for it.

It’s a natural progression and in some ways we have been building towards it for a few years now. So why am I feeling so sad about it? I think it’s because this isn’t just an exciting new beginning for him, it is also, in some ways, the end of what has been the happiest few years of my own life.

I have been lucky enough to have been able to spend most of my time at home with Finn since he was born, and while he has enjoyed the benefits of creche and pre-school, we did it on our own terms. We chose our own days and hours and always made sure to keep plenty of time for ourselves. Time goes by so quickly and I have always been mindful of spending as much time as possible just enjoying our time together and creating happy memories.

Childhood seems to be getting shorter and shorter these days and a child’s first few years are such a special time for any parent when you know you are the centre of their universe.

The time between him being fitted for his first pair of walking shoes to him now picking out his own school shoes seems to have gone in a beautiful, busy, bustling blur and I’ve loved every minute of it! I just wish time would slow down a little bit now though, to let me catch my breath. So while Finn is literally jumping with excitement at the start of the road to formal education, I have to be honest and admit that I’m really going to miss our leisurely days full of chatter, adventure and fun. With his stories, jokes and infectious enthusiasm for exploring the world around him, I know I will miss the company of my little best friend.

His love of learning will be satisfied somewhere else now. Finn will be attending Glasheen Boys school, under the dedicated eye of Principal Michael Daly. He and his team are known for their holistic approach to education and the nurturing of each child as an individual. With mottos such as, ‘A good school is a safe school’ and ‘Bullies are not cool, we don’t want them in our school’, we know that Finn will be in the safest of hands.

Having talked to friends who already have children in school, most agree that this is an emotional time. It is a bitter-sweet event. As parents, we are proud to watch our children becoming more independent and confident in their own right. With that, however, comes a sense of having to let go and hand them over into a system that will be a huge influencing factor in their lives for the next 14 years and beyond.

It does take a village to raise a child and up until now Finn has spent his time firmly surrounded by his own little fan club. He is the light of mine and his dad’s life and of both our families. He loves hanging out with his uncles and being doted on by his lovely aunties.

His world is now going to be expanding and we will support and encourage him along the way as he branches out into new experiences and interests.

So as he takes his first steps, in those new school shoes, into Junior Infants, I will smile and wave him off with an air of excitement and encouragement. Inside I will be struggling to keep it together until I get outside the school gates to let the inevitable tears flow. The tears will be of sadness as I bid farewell to my baby boy, who will now officially become a big boy, but also tears of happiness and pride as he embarks on the next chapter of his young life.

We will be delighted to be involved in all the new knowledge and experiences Finn will have along the path of his school days. When he grows up, he wants to be a fireman, but wherever life leads him, we will support him. We already couldn’t be prouder of him and our greatest ambition for him is that he will grow up to be happy, loved and kind. What more would anyone really wish for their child?

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