Last week I went to the theatre with two good friends of mine. We had scored front row tickets to “Mamma Mia”, which I’d seen on stage and loved, which I’d seen the film of and loathed, and which I knew would be a brilliant time. And it was. The three of us typically eat too much, drink too much, and laugh too much.
While sitting there enjoying the cheese fest that is the Abba musical, I was struck by the lyrics of “Slipping Through My Fingers.”
Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I’m losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl
Bear with me here.
When the twins were about 4 days old I called the local school and put their names down on the waiting list. I was walking down our lane with the dog, my C-section scar hurting and my hormones racing as fast as the cold breeze blowing down was. As I was a little, um, ahead of things the twins’ names were the first two to go down onto the waiting list for the Autumn of 2012. It felt so incredibly far away, that date, so unreal in its viability.
Last year we attended the open house for applications to the school, which is known for its excellent marks, caring environment, and its students which typically leave it several years above their age groups from other schools. Although it’s got a religious background (it’s a Church of England school and very much a church-y school), it’s also our local school (we are in catchment) and the one which we felt, due to its smaller class sizes and the fact that we love how hard it works one on one with student, that it was the one to try for.
In January we entered our names officially and submit copious amounts of paperwork.
In April while in Agra overlooking the Taj Mahal, we got the emails that the twins had each got one of the coveted spots in the school.
We’ve been getting ready ever since.
We’re facing a steep cost in school uniforms to buy and times to do things in – the school has many “settling in” days for kids to get ready. There are one million rules (you can’t wear this color, you must wear that color, tights must be worn during X months and skirts must be y cm above the knee). There are things to source (Plimsolls, anyone?) and things to buy.
And in the midst of it all is the fact that it’s all here. That Autumn 2012 timeframe I imagined so long ago is nigh. It felt like it would never be real and yet it is.
My little girl is so very excited about it that it’s impossible to relay it via the ordinary font of the common man. She nearly fizzes with joy at the next step and there is nothing about it that isn’t a little bit ready for this leap. Her brother is calmer and more cautious but Nora has already climbed onto the diving board and is ready to pounce.
I watch her, mystified and amazed that a little person could be so incredible. It’s the same for her brother, I find him equally but differently incredible. But it’s Nora who seems to be growing with leaps and bounds, who seems to be pushing off from the earth in search of whom she’s next going to be. Life for her is an adventure, and she’s not shy about making her introductions.
Sunday morning at 5 am our bedroom door flung open. An insomniac Alastair had already gone downstairs, and I sat upright to a tiny Nora in floods of tears, racing to our bed.
“My tooth fell out and I can’t find it and the Tooth Fairy won’t come!” she wailed, inconsolable. I reached my arms out and folded her into them, into my lap. We talked and I calmed her down as best I could. I can still do that. I can still calm them when they are upset.
Hand in hand we went back to her room and – together with her father who’d raced upstairs – we found her tooth . We readied it for the Tooth Fairy on Sunday night, and Monday morning as I went into their room to wake them up, there she was giddy with joy.
“The Tooth Fairy came!” she shouted, holding up a shiny pound coin that I happen to know the Tooth Fairy went around peoples’ change in the house to ensure she had the shiniest. “The Tooth Fairy came to see my tooth!”
I hugged her tightly. It is all so fast, but I get to be there while the magic of the Tooth Fairy overflows and sparks through the layers of the house. Autumn 2012 is bearing down on us and soon two little people that I adore and love will be off on an adventure to school. It will be good, it will be right. I watch the twins and marvel. I watch the youngest of the two – Nora – and I think of that damn Abba song.
I drink in the magic that the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas, princesses, unicorns, mermaids and fairies as it shines around our children.
And not a day goes by that I am not grateful for it.
PS – I’m up here, managing the ropes.