To my darling daughter.
In two short weeks time you will be starting your first day of school. Since the day you were born, we have shared many ‘firsts’ together. I remember the sound of your very first cry, just seconds after you entered the world. I remember lying in hospital, I could hear the cries of a nursery full of newborns down the hallway but I knew exactly which was yours, even though we had only met that very same day.
I remember your first laugh, a sound so beautiful it was music to my ears. I remember your first taste of real food. Your little mouth discovering thick rice cereal, your eyebrows slightly frowning, your tiny tongue working out what to do with this new sensation. I remember the first night you slept in your own room. I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night, huddled up next to the baby monitor listening to each breath you took. I remember your first step. My wobbly bobble head dolly, your tiny fingers clasped to the side of the couch, reluctantly letting go. The concentration on your pretty little face was priceless, and yet your eyes were firmly locked on mine, you knew I was there to catch you with my arms stretched out wide.
I remember the first time you were really sick. Tears rolling down your face with no understanding of why I couldn’t make it better instantly. My heart broke into a million pieces. I remember your first epic tantrum. My little angelic looking tot, with the lungs of Pavarotti, you flipping all over the ground like a fish out of water. How could someone so tiny create that much noise and fuss over the simple fact I had given you a spoon that was yellow and not pink?
I remember your first haircut, one by one your soft baby curls falling on the salon floor and then abruptly swept away. I secretly picked up a few and popped them in my handbag – as any silly sentimental mummy would.
There have been so many firsts. And each one we have shared together. But this first will be different. Together we will get you into your oversized kindy uniform, your dress no doubt sitting way below your knees. I will do your first big girl school hairstyle and together we will tie your school shoes for the first time with a ‘loop, swoop and pull’. Together, holding hands, we will walk up those school steps, we will have our first goodbye cuddle at the door.
But then, I must leave you there to embark on what will be a journey where we won’t always be able to share your ‘firsts’ together. I’m going to be honest with you my girl, your mummy is in way over her head with this one. Before now I have been able to monitor your every move and help filter the hard knocks and mean people of this world. I’ve been there to quickly lift you up before you stumble and be right by your side to protect you from everything I possibly can. But now, each weekday between the hours of 9-3 you won’t have me so near anymore. So, for what it’s worth my love … Here are a few little tips to survive the next 13 years of your school life.
The first years of primary school are often about who is whose ‘best friend’. There will be tears, mini lunchtime break ups, and questioning what you could have done better to graduate to ‘best friend’ status. Don’t take it to heart. In a few years, you’ll all be sitting together at lunchtime anyway chatting over which boy you think is the cutest.
You will always have that one teacher who makes you want to bawl your eyes out with frustration. Listen to them, they will be the one who will teach you the most valuable lessons.
Homework. Just do it. I know you’re not going to want to, and believe me it will most likely be a painful task for us both. But it must be done, and at least these days you have Google. I never did – be grateful!
Whatever rhymes with your name, that will be your nickname for your school life. It will most likely be mean. Don’t let them know you care. Head up, shoulders back and embrace it as I did mine (Frigid Bridget). After all, we are Aussie and this is just what Aussies do.
If you see someone sitting by themselves at lunchtime – be the one who goes up and asks if they’re OK. I don’t care if it’s not ‘cool’ , I don’t care if they smell or pick their nose. Do it. They will remember your kindness- forever.
Try your best. I don’t expect you to excel in all you do. Trust me, when it came to maths I was the worst. All I ask is that you try.
Don’t be afraid to stand up to your teachers if you disagree. Just because they’re bigger and older than you, does not always mean they will be right. If something doesn’t sit right, say so – respectfully.
DO NOT be a bully! This is non negotiable. I don’t care if everyone else is doing it. It is not cool. And I will not tolerate you being a ‘mean girl’.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you think your question will make the whole classroom roar with laughter, just raise your hand and ask. This is what defines smart people from stupid people. And my darling, you are smart.
No I will not hem your skirt up three inches. Don’t bother asking.
Read. Even if the book you’ve been given sounds lame, just read it. I promise you that you will at least find one thing in there that will teach you something.
Explore what you love and follow it wholeheartedly. Love sport? Aspire to be the next Cathy Freeman. Love drama class? Aim to be the next Judy Garland. Is art your thing? Believe you can be a Van Gogh. I promise you, whatever you love and choose to do. I will be behind you cheering all the way.
Swimming carnival. Don’t ask me to write you a sick note to get out of it. Every other pre pubescent student there will be feeling just as exposed as you are. Dive in the water and make the finish line. I’ll be waiting at the end with a towel.
And finally- remember this. While school will feel like a never ending exhausting, exciting but scary 13 years… The rest of your life is just around the corner. Be young. Be wild and free. Explore. Play. Don’t take life too seriously. Be young. Don’t grow up too fast. Because while I am still learning, this I know. Your childhood will be the best years of your life.
Enjoy the ride.
Loving you forever and a day your mummy x