We are one child down this week and it already feels strange.
This morning DD1 boarded a coach with 80 other highly excited children for 5 days on the Isle of Wight. She blew me a couple of kisses as the coach pulled away from the school and probably won’t think about me at all again this week.
But the lead up to her getting on the coach hit me harder than I expected.
There were tears during the school run. The little two got quite upset at the thought of not seeing their big sister again until Friday, and DD2, who had initially been very ‘Yay, I’m going to be the eldest for a week’, was a bit sniffly when it came time to say goodbye. Even DD1 got a bit emotional. It was nice that they know they do value each other as company though, and not just as verbal punching bags .
I took the others to school while DD1 made her lunch, and when I got back we went over her packing list again. We managed to fit in a last minute shopping trip yesterday to pick up some important bits; luckily everything fitted in her suitcase in the end.
We were told the kids needed to be at the school by 10:15 for a 10:30 departure. We headed down just after 10 as DD2 had forgotten her PE kit, and I wanted to get DD1 to run it in for me. There was already a HUGE crowd of parents milling around a couple of coaches.
DD balked at first.
‘I don’t think I want to do this’, she said.
‘Too Late’, I replied. ‘We’ve paid for it.’
But then she caught sight of her friend heading to the playground for registration and was swept up in the crowd.
We parents stood around chatting politely. Quite a few had older kids, so had gone through this all before. Some looked worried, some looked upset, others just looked relieved. I was talking to one of the mums whose son has his birthday today. Another one’s child has a birthday later in the week. There are going to be four birthdays during the week apparently; we watched the teachers carrying the ready made birthday cakes down to the bus.
Then it was time for the kids to board the bus. DD and her friend practically skipped down the path and ignoring their parents. I had to order DD back for a quick hug and a photo by the bus. She capitulated but then scrambled aboard, and that was that.
10 minutes more of standing around and the coaches were ready to leave. The first one pulled out, followed by DD’s. I took photos of them trundling carefully around the tight corner at the far end of the road that would take them toward the A40, then onto the M25.
Then I walked back to the car and took the dogs for a long run in the woods.
I do feel a bit sad; it’s like part of me is missing even though I’m usually alone at this time of the day on a Monday anyhow.
I also feel content; DD is growing up and away from the family and that’s how it’s meant to be, isn’t it? We still have a good 5-9 years before she leaves for good, and I have a house full of smaller ones to distract me, but this is how an empty house is going to feel isn’t it?
I’ll try not to dwell on it too much, but it hasn’t helped that none of the photos I took today transferred over to my computer, and appear to have just vanished into thin air. So in the place of the poignant photo of DD’s coach rounding the corner and driving away from the school, I have to use this; a photo of DD’s half packed suitcase.
For once I’m rather looking forward to the 3 o’clock school run.