My little boy O, aged four, leaves nursery next week, ready to embark on his next great adventure. It will be the end of an era and the close of a chapter in both our lives. It will be emotional (for me, not him). There will definitely be tears.

Just over seven years ago now I moved into our current home in Kidderminster, a town with which I had no prior connection and no family or friends, with my then boyfriend R (now husband) and our first born, F, then aged 15 months. We moved in on December 23rd (madness, what were we thinking?). Our Christmas morning pictures reveal a bare living room, bar for a battered old sofa and a TV on a cardboard box (we hadn’t had much time for unpacking).

But there was a fire roaring in the grate, we had champagne to celebrate and we were smiling. We look very contented. I assume we were, though time has left this memory rather hazy. I’m guessing this was because we were on autopilot, shattered from packing, moving, unpacking and Christmas arrangements.

Directly opposite our house was a nursery – a lovely little kindergarten. It was perfect – a picture postcard nursery, with little swiss-style wooden beds, beautiful playrooms kitted out with wooden toys, mobiles, lanterns and gorgeous Scandinavian fabrics, with homecooked food made by a corden bleu cook – just the ticket for an aspiring yummy mummy.

Of course, I am not that shallow – these were lovely extras to the real reason for choosing the nursery, which was the warm, caring staff and freerange, un-school-like ethos, backed up by clear routines and discipline. Being a few yards away didn’t do any harm either. It meant when I first left F with them, aged two, I did not feel quite the same terrible wrench as many mothers and fathers endure, leaving their little ones miles away.

The nursery gave me the chance to get a little of my old life back. I spent two days a week working, mostly freelancing for a local newspaper and writing, before taking my first tentative steps into public relations, while little F learned about tadpoles and jolly phonics and taking turns, and made lovely little friends.

R and I always intended to have a second child, and possibly even a third, and once the rhythm of our lives settled into an easy pattern, we decided to give this baby lark a second go.
Things didn’t work out quite as we had planned.

In fact, after three years of trying, we had practically given up. One final heartfelt late night discussion later, and we decided we should count our blessings and be grateful for the miracle we had been given.

F might not get a brother or sister to play with – but we would fill him up with love and devote our time to making sure he had the best childhood ever. And we would learn to live with the disappointment of not bringing another super-child into the world. It was probably for the best.

Two months later I discovered I was pregnant with O. Well, you know what they say – sometimes the thing you wish the most for happens when you least expect it, or when you stop wishing for it quite so hard.

O has followed in his brother’s footsteps by attending the same nursery, making the transition from the Pumpkin House to Middle Room to Big Room, just as F did before him. He too has learned the delights of cooking hopple popple (bacon, potatoes, onions, leeks) gently over an open fire at Elfin Wood; of marvelling at the size of the squash grown at the nursery’s allotment; of naming the chickens and watching their chicks hatch in an incubator; of incurring the wrath of the owner’s mother, whose punishment is to get a naughty child to sit in the kitchen and help her cook.
He will also follow in his brother’s footsteps into the same primary school, and hopefully he will not be unduly weighed down by expectation (his brother is a bit of an academic genius and most teachers’ pet student).
In pretty much every other way they are different. One is studious, a great reader, a gentle soul, confident on the outside but a worrier on the inside (like his mum). The other is a crazy bundle of chaos, scarily creative, with mischief coursing through his veins (like his mum). I love them both equally, fervently and with all my heart and being.

My two little miracles.

So it’s goodbye to those pre-school years. Goodbye to toddler groups and baby music, to NCT and nappies, to buggies and sleepless nights (so many sleepless nights!), to lugging round a bag full of wipes and toys and crumbled up biscuits, to Poi on CBeebies, to snotty noses and half-drunk cups of tea, to crying in despair while a toddler tantrums, to crying with joy when they tell you they love you for the first time. Goodbye to the most fantastic, scary, emotional, exhilarating, mind-numbing, terrifying, exhausting, anxiety-inducing, ecstatic roller coaster adventure of my life – so far. Bring on the teen years – I think I may be ready for you if I can just have a few quiet years first.

    • Gayle
    • August 25th, 2010

    Teen years are far harder. I thought that life was difficult when my son was little. As he got bigger so did his attitude. Gone are the days when I could ask him to sit on the bottom stair and “think” about it. His arguments would be praised in Parliament!! My second child has started to display the self same tendencies, leaving me to think that they have inherited them from me. (great, no-one else to blame…)She is pre-teen known as” tween” (tweenies in my mind have Bella and Milo amongst them!). I’ve nicknamed her “Taps” because she’s hot then she’s cold. Oh well, I’ve got the next five years of enjoyment with number 3. Happy days.

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