20th September 2015

We have to let him do it alone

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 14.13.08This morning at school drop-off, my husband and I stood outside our son’s classroom and watched him walk around looking lost. Too soon in the term to form  real friendships and missing the lazy mornings of the weekend, he looked so sad and so small. He had gone quiet as we drove into the school a few moments before – and as we lifted him out of his car seat and walked through the doors, we could see uncertainty wash over his little body.

We felt like we’d had our hearts yanked out of our chest as we watched him walk around that classroom looking so unhappy.

I walked away, but my husband wanted to linger and watch him some more – and back in the car together a few minutes later, we sat in silence.

We never expected settling him into school to be so difficult. Not just at the sadness of him growing up (that was true a few weeks ago and we have moved on), but because this is one thing we can’t make better.

We have to take a step back.

We have to let him do it alone.

This is the first time since becoming parents we have felt like this, when every fiber of our bodies wants to scoop him into a giant hug and tell him we will take him home. Tell him that he doesn’t have to do it. Tell him that he is too young to go out into the world without us by his side. Tell him we have changed our mind and he can be our baby again.

As I type this, he is still at school. And I know he will be happily playing with his classmates, splashing paint onto paper in bright hues, building towers as tall as himself, and sat on the rug listening to stories with his mouth open. I know he will be fine. I know it only takes him minutes to settle every morning when we have walked away. And I know that a few weeks down the line, he won’t be wandering around the classroom looking lost, but running up to his friends with a smile on his face.

But this morning, it was hard to remember all that – and as we drove around those dusty Dubai streets after drop-off, we started talking about parenthood.

About how hard it will be to let them make their own way in life.

To watch them do it from the sidelines.

To let them go.

My little man is made of tough stuff and I know he will be OK. But how will we get used to the worry? How will we get used to walking away?

When we have children, we make a decision to wear our hearts on the outside of our body for the rest of our lives. I know the worry will never melt away completely, but I know we will get used to it. And seeing his happiness will make things much easier, I am sure.

We have to let him do it alone.

But we will be watching from the sidelines.