Surrey schools finish for the summer holidays today and when the bell goes at 13:30, Sissyboo will finish her reception year. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. It seems only five minutes ago that I was sewing on a gazillion name labels (repeat after me: iron on next time; iron on, OK?), getting school uniform and hoping she wouldn’t grow out of her Clark’s shoes too quickly.
Then came the bewildering two settling in weeks of alternate mornings and afternoons depending on which half of the alphabet your child’s surname fell into, the colour of your birthstone and whether or not there was a ‘r’ in the month. I swear it was designed to be as awkward as possible to test parents’ organisational skills. These would be much needed throughout the year as we were instructed to make innovational outfits for space week, come up with fundraising ideas for Comic Relief, while making cakes for the Christmas Fair, a nativity outfit, more cakes for another fair, designing Christmas cards in October, filling jam jars with goodies about ten times across the year, making more cakes for the summer fete, conjuring an Easter bonnet, making more cakes, and a hundred other demands I have repressed for my own sanity, all with a generous 24 hours notice.
Maybe it’s because the school’s kept us all so busy this year that the time has passed so quickly. Sissyboo started reception with a dress that was practically down by her ankles and is now an inch above her knees. She knew the alphabet and basic jolly phonics, and could count reasonably. She can now read quite well, recognise and write numbers up to 20 and do some basic addition and subtraction. She has gone from a shy girl to a still fundamentally guarded, but much more confident and try anything kind of girl.
She has grown in so many ways. All of her class have. But not all of them have done so with the kinds of difficulties Sissyboo has. Since she started school she has had to increasingly face up to the reality of having a little brother who needs more of her mummy’s attention than most younger siblings. She has had to put up with mummy and Boo going AWOL on occasion as we were hospitalised in three different hospitals over Christmas. She has had to watch her brother having seizures and see him scream while they drew bloods for what felt like an hour when they (wrongly, thank God) thought he had contracted meningitis again. She has had to see the younger siblings of two of her nursery friends and now classmates leapfrog spectacularly over her little brother in terms of their physical development despite the fact that both are six months younger. She knows her brother may never walk. She knows he might never be able to go to her school. She doesn’t think it’s OK.
Things have been really hard on her: harder than I care to think about most of the time, and harder (mercifully) than I think she knows much of the time. Over the course of the past year, there have been many blips. Her behaviour (usually very good and mature for a five-year-old) has descended into shouting, hitting and tantrums of the kind I have never seen. Every so often she can’t sleep for a week or so at a time and starts wetting herself. These things don’t always seem Boo-related immediately. They usually transpire to be.
As I’ve said before on the blog, one of the hardest things about our new life is coming to terms with its impact on Sissyboo. At times, I have felt like I have lost her. I often feel as though I have let her down because I can’t spend as much time with her as I’d like to or do all the things she needs me to or would like to. I know she feels like this too sometimes, but I know she doesn’t love me any less for that and, perhaps most impressively of all, I know that she doesn’t for a second take it out on her brother. I have never seen two children love each other as much the Boos.
Somehow, she has got through all of this. She hasn’t just survived (as I think I have); she has triumphed. I know her journey with Boo, like ours, is only just beginning. As it unfolds it will present new and probably unexpected challenges. But for now I am going to take the time to be proud of my remarkable (not-so-little) girl and all that she has achieved this year. I am one lucky Mummy.