I was sailing along quite happily counting down the days to the end of the school year, thinking about what we could do during the Summer holiday. The first tiny jolt came a few days ago. While talking about their childhoods and past birthdays with my middle two children I realised with a startling reality that my youngest will be 15 on her birthday this August. She isn’t such a little girl anymore.
The impact of the passing years has seemed more personal up to now. A few days ago while at work I was discussing how I most likely will have to stop working in four years when my daughter finishes school for good. It doesn’t seem so far off from here. When I first thought about the end of my daughter’s school days there were about ten years left. From here I see a sudden rush toward that day. Like all families with children of school age our lives and our years are broken into school terms and holidays. Tomorrow is my daughter’s last day before the Summer holiday, then she will be back in September, then it will be Hallowe’en, then Christmas, New Year, Easter and Summer once again. Inexorably running away with time.
This week my daughter has been bringing home her school work from this last year, books filled with marks, photographs, reports, items she has made. They are all pretty much what one would expect at the end of the school year.
Today she brought home a certificate. It marks two stages of Transition. She is moving from the years of compulsory schooling to the years of optional, there is only one more year of compulsory remaining. My older daughter smiled at the certificate and told me quite matter of factly that next year is GCSE year. They are the national examinations taken by 16 year olds in the UK. Since my younger girl’s birthday falls in August she would be taking them next year, even though she would still be 15 at the time.
I held the transition certificate and cried. There will be no national examinations, no qualifications. There won’t be work experience, she would have gone on that this year. There won’t be university or work. There won’t be independent living.
Her milestones are different. They will take note of how she can sometimes, sometimes help dress herself. They will reward allowing someone else to guide her hand to make a mark. They will acknowledge helping in the kitchen. They will demand every ounce of ability and skill she has to achieve.
Long ago I stopped comparing her to other children her age. As the disparity between she and they increased it was cruel, wrong to compare those who are not alike. I stopped noticing what children were the same age as I did with my others and their friends and school mates.
But somedays, just once in a very great wonder, on a day like today, something brings that difference into sharp relief and for a moment I become keenly aware of what might have been.
~ ~ ~
Sending you hopes for a day filled with good things.
© 2013, Penbleth / L. McG.-E.. All rights reserved.