So EldestGirl turned five years old today. Right now, this instant actually, as I have set this post to publish at exactly the time of day she was born: 9.30 a.m.
Every birthday, every milestone feels like a landmark: the first solids, the first word, the first steps, the first shoes, the first day at nursery, the first day at school. Each landmark puts a little more distance between us, literally in some cases: the first steps away.
This year it feels more poignant than before though; turning five coincides – give or take a week – with the first day at school. Suddenly I am unable to be privy to most of her day. Yes, she was previously at nursery for a few days each week, but we got a thorough debrief from her key worker each day, and were kept up to date with her emotional temperature. Now – it feels as though she’s been set adrift a little. No, that’s not true. It feels as though we have been set adrift a little. I can’t be present for playground altercations, or when someone says something that might upset her. I can’t make it right always because I don’t know exactly what happened.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Nothing if not her mother’s daughter, EldestGirl is a diarist in the making. Each day she narrates to me the comings and goings (and mostly lunchings) of the day, and I have to put them in a book for her. But she is very factual and doesn’t like to tell me how she feels. I think she thinks that’s not in keeping with the purpose of the diary. She also gets cross if I write something in without her approval. She is definitely keeping me in line.
At the moment, whilst school is still new, unfamiliar to her, what Mummy and Daddy say is what matters most. So she will say, “X said that girls are like this, but that’s not true, is it, Mummy? Some girls are like that, and some aren’t. And some boys are like that, and some aren’t.” At the minute, she is never happier than with her Batgirl knickers on (usually over her head), playing superheroes. She has never knowingly been near a doll. I don’t think she knows what Barbie is. And we are all OK with that. But I fear it is only a matter of time before the playground holds sway over what Mummy and Daddy might think, and we start hearing sexist nonsense from her, or random half truths. (Just last week we had, “When you are in love you rip each others’ bits off.” I might need to revisit her YouTube Kids permissions. Or my relationship.)
At the minute, aged five, there’s very little we can’t make right for her. Playground squabbles are resolvable, friendship groups are malleable, a cut knee’s plaster takes away the tears, the toy she desperately wants is usually affordable for an extra-special treat or birthday present. We can make her world a lovely place to be. For now. Long may that last. Happy birthday, EldestGirl.