The toddler I used to write about started school last week. It's a truism that time flies at a speed that almost blurs your vision when you have a young child, and his pre-school years have been no exception. Suddenly my baby is an eloquent, ferociously bright schoolboy, and as his mother for me the first few days of starting school were a bittersweet blend of fierce pride and excitement mingled with nostalgia and a feeling of loss for what is now past.
For him, there was just excitement: new uniform, new classroom, new friends, new adventures. He started his school career in typically independent style, and on the second day I found him on the pavement waiting for me when I arrived to pick him up. He'd walked out unnoticed as soon as they'd opened the doors to allow parents in to collect their children, deciding he'd save me the walk to the classroom from the school gate. One visit to his class teacher and a phone call to the head later, eliciting much horror and mortification from all concerned, and a flea would have trouble exiting the school without permission. That's just my way of making a point; any sign of actual fleas will prompt another call to Mr Headmaster.
The first week was just morning attendance, and after school on the third day I treated my boy to a session at a local playbarn. There he met one of his new school friends. They played happily together until my son's lunch arrived when he grumpily left his playmate whooping down slides and clambering up foam bricks to eat it.
"Have I eaten enough?" he asked, approximately every 4 seconds. I told him he had to eat his lunch and then he could return to his friend.
Presently, the friend mooched by to assess the situation. He looked at my son's plate.
"I had that too," he observed.
"Did you have to eat it all?" asked my son, crossly.
"No. I left some of it because I was full."
My son glared at me, then turned to his companion.
"SHE says I've got to eat all mine," he grumbled, then added with venom, "She's evil".
His new friend gasped. "IS she?" he asked, breathlessly. He stared at me in fascination, as if trying to decide whether having an evil mother was interesting enough to override the obvious downsides.
My son continued to grumble. His friend, still keeping a beady eye on me in case I suddenly burst into flame and poked him with a trident, remarked that he'd enjoyed a dessert of delicious chocolate cake.
"Even though you didn't eat your lunch?" I asked, becoming my own mother. "I thought you were full."
"Well I was full of my LUNCH. But I left room for the chocolate cake," he replied with a 4-year-old's sturdy logic.
"Can I have some chocolate cake?" asked my son, predictably.
"If you eat 3 more mouthfuls of your lunch," I replied, almost automatically.
His school friend gazed at me with a look of slight disappointment in his eyes.
"Oh," he said to my son, dejectedly. "She's not that evil after all."