Letting go – again

At six and and a half, he still doesn’t know about sex, or Syria, or cancer, or calories.  Though he has a reasonable knowledge of dinosaurs, earthquakes and volcanoes, and occasionally worries that one or all of them could pose a threat.

He used to want to drive a dustbin lorry. But now, when he grows up he wants to be one of those people who dig for things underground, though he has trouble remembering what one of those is called.*

He still has most of  his milk teeth and still believes in Father Christmas.

And although I tell him he’ll always be my baby –  ‘what, even when I’m 19? Even when I’m 100?’ – he’s unrecognisable from the baby that completely capsized my world just over five years ago, bringing immeasurable meaning, joy and fear.

It was almost midnight when he arrived. He was sucked from my womb, blue and floppy, after a forty hour labour. We were both exhausted.  I should have slept, but I spent the night gazing at him with the light of my mobile phone.  And for the first few years of his life, I barely took my eyes off him – worried that I’d either miss something, or that something calamitous might happen.

Toddler groups became an exercise in separation anxiety. I’d plonk him in the middle of a train set, willing him to join in with the other kids. But he’d attach himself to my legs, or more frequently my boobs, in his resolute refusal to let go of Mummy, even in the face of biscuits and Thomas the Tank Engine.

I’d watch other kids tear around church halls, tip paint over the floor and shake the life out of soft toys, wondering why he didn’t do the same, worrying there was something wrong.

Then J started school.  He put on the obligatory uniform and we took the obligatory photos. Then we lead him into a classroom daubed in primary colours, and left him with a woman we’d barely met. And off he went.

And before we knew it three terms had passed and it was the Summer holidays.

At a craft session the other day, I hovered anxiously, protectively, behind him, ready to defend him from adult interrogation.

‘I’m in reception,’ J announced, when questioned about his schooling.

And I realised I had nothing to worry about.

I watch as he splutters across the swimming pool, swipes at the monkey bars in the park, and orders an Appletiser without even glancing at me for reassurance. J is changing – and not just in the darkening and unspiraling of his curls and the elongating of his limbs. He’s letting go.

And I’m proud. And just a little bit sad. My boy is growing up. Beautifully. He says he doesn’t want to go back to school. But I know if there are any tears, they won’t be his.

*And just in case you’re wondering, it’s an archaeologist.

I posted a version of this before. But seeing as it’s a new term (and I haven’t had a chance to write anything else!) here it is again. Apologies if anyone has read it before.


About Becky Dickinson

Mum of three. Writer, blogger, grower. Trying to keep my head above the compost heap.

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  1. Diamond says:

    That is such a sweet story. It made me cry. I am a slightly older Mum with a 17 month old little boy. The little boy I never thought I would have. He’s filled my world with a love I never thought possible, and I know the day will come when he let’s go, and honestly, even though it will be great for him, I dread it. Mum’s often say how tired they are with lack of sleep etc, but like you I would gaze at my baby for hours and wish he would wake up, I was so excited to spend more time with him. I look at him and still can’t believe he is mine.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Diamond. So glad you got your little miracle and that he is so treasured. Yes, it’s hard when they go to school, but amazing how quickly it becomes normal and it’s lovely to see them blossom. You will never really let go. Enjoy your toddler! x

  3. I can so relate to this post. My two are in year one and Year two and they fill me with joy. When they were small I dreaded the holidays as everything stopped, but now I love it as I get to spend time with them..

    They have been back at school two days and I am missing them already.

    I love your blog and have added it to my list to follow, partly because my eldest Maxi also has curly hair!

  4. Ah, thank you ( : I’ve just visited the mad house – looks amazing. I am still a novice! This was the first holiday we hadn’t been plagued by illness or relatives, and it was lovely not to have an agenda.

  5. Awww, lovely. I know what you mean. My youngest starts school in September so I’m gearing up to let go for the 4th and last time. Only one more term to go..

  6. It is a bittersweet thing watching them grow up. I always feel both sad and happy at each milestone. What a lovely post.

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