Clip on ties?! What’s that all about? It takes more time this morning wrestling Peta’s tie knot into a reasonable looking position under stiff white collars than organising any other part of her new uniform. Then it’s her hair; she wants plaits. It’s only been six weeks since I last did this, but suddenly I am in need of a little stool so I can see the top of her head properly. Her white shirt is puffy and resists being tucked into her skirt – the one I mistakenly ordered big enough for her to pitch out and sleep under, so ended up taking in with elastic. Jumper, blazer and she’s set.
Peta is grinning. I am so happy for her – she is confident, fizzing, excited – no regretful glances towards Amos and Melody reluctantly heading back to primary school. I am glad. I’ll admit to having had my worries after a leaver’s assembly at the end of last term designed to tug at even the densest heart strings. I had strode to the front to take Peta in my arms, not being able to bear the sight of her standing distressed at the front, tears streaming down her face. Interfering Mum again. But I had been angry. I had expected a celebration, a herald of adventure to come, a joyful moving on to a bright future, not a mournful, heart wrenching wave good bye.
Fortunately last term’s experience seems not to have coloured Peta’s perception of secondary school. More than at any point in her life, she has a open future ahead. No decisions have yet been made, she is at her least directed; all available possibilities are still open to her and I am proud that she is relishing this opportunity. Her choice of secondary school is new to this family – there is no history, no remnants of previous unhappiness present at her earlier school. Other than the Head, Peta is an unknown to everyone; she carries no family baggage. I know that is important to Peta. This is her own thing, her own exploration, she can be who she wants to be – not a young carer, not a family defender, but an independent adventurer. As I stand with her, I want more than anything for my optimism about her future not to be misplaced. And as I wave her off, I am so proud, so very happy to see her so keen to stride into her bright future. But how do I feel for me? That is a very different question.