On finishing Reception

At 1.15pm today, The Boy will officially finish his Reception year. And what a year it’s been.

Looking back over his work from the past three terms, it’s amazing to see how far he’s come. Back in September, his writing was pretty much indecipherable, and likewise his pictures. He was just beginning to read, but had no belief in his abilities and would give up within seconds, saying he couldn’t do it. He could count reasonably well, but still had to be reminded what number came after 59, and while he has always had lots of energy, he lacked physical confidence and would panic if he went too high on the climbing frame.

Ten months on, The Boy is a different child. Over the past three terms, he has grown and changed so much. Now he can read more or less anything you put in front of him, and can have a good stab at writing most things, too, if you ignore the suspect spelling (bonus points for figuring out what ‘disighdid’ is meant to mean). He can count upwards and downwards in twos, and do simple sums. He’s been on his first school trip and played the lead role in the nativity play. He’s found his feet physically, too: he’ll never be the sporty type, but now he’ll climb the rigging in the park right to the very top, can cycle without stabilisers, and – shock, horror – even won the obstacle race on Sports Day.

The Boy has also done a lot of growing up outside the classroom. Not all of this is good. Whereas during his nursery year, he spent most of his time playing Mums and Dads with the girls, he’s now All Boy. Playground games seem to revolve around armies, jails and baddies, and I have to throw away at least two indelibly mud-stained t-shirts a week. And at the grand old age of five and three quarters, he’s already working on his teenage attitude. His name has appeared ‘on the white board’ at school on more than one occasion (usually for talking too much), and when asked to tidy up his sprawling Lego game, his stock responses are either, ‘You do it,’ or ‘It’s not fair.’

This has been a big year for The Boy. Not only has he had to get used to full-time school, but he’s also had to adjust to the arrival of his baby sister. It could quite easily have been unsettling, even traumatic, for him after five years of being an only child, but I couldn’t be more proud of how he’s coped. Five months into life as a big brother, it’s as if The Baby has always been here. We’ve had no jealousy, no tearful tantrums, no furtive pokes or pinches; on the contrary, he adores her. When he comes into our bed in the morning, he jostles me out of the way so he can sit next to her, and when I see him snuggling up with her, reading her a story, it melts my heart.

So, in two hours time, I’ll be collecting The Boy (and a huge pile of pictures, paintings and models, no doubt) from the Reception classroom for the last time. How will I feel, I wonder? Although he’s had a great year academically, I get the feeling that his teacher has never warmed to him. I’m looking forward to Year One and seeing how he gets on with a new teacher and a new, more structured school day, but nevertheless, I suspect I’ll feel quite emotional when I pick him up today. From September, he won’t be one of the little ones any more. I won’t be able to take him into his classroom, or collect him from there at the end of the day. It’ll just be a quick kiss at the door (if I’m lucky), then off he’ll go. It’s yet another indication of how quickly he’s growing up.

But while a part of me is sad at how quickly The Boy’s childhood is flying by, it’s wonderful to see him blossoming into a clever, confident and charismatic little person, full of curiosity and enthusiasm. Where his future will take him, who knows, but whatever he does, I’ll be right there beside him, cheering him on.

Happy holidays, poppet: I’m so proud of all you’ve achieved.

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