A last day at nursery school

Published on 23 July 2020 in , , ,

Children in a nursery school. From the collection of the National Library of Medicine

In another universe, today is my daughter’s final day at nursery school before she heads to primary school in September. Around 8:15 we would have set off together on the short walk there, daughter merrily zooming along on her scooter. We’d get to the main entrance, push the buzzer to be let in, go down the steps, and wander into the small cloakroom. We’d put her coat and bag on her hook, then go out into the main room.

We’d share a little hug, and then she’s wander off towards the carpet area where the other children are sat, waiting to start their day. Half way there she might turn round and give me a little wave to say goodbye. And then I’d make my way out of the building, head back to my house and prepare to start the working day.

In that universe, Covid-19 never happened. Or it did and was quickly contained, life getting back to normal rapidly.

Unfortunately that’s not the universe we live in. In our universe, daughter’s final day at nursery was back in March. I wasn’t allowed in the building, and had to unceremoniously bundle her quickly through the door into the waiting hands of the friendly nursery staff who rapidly squirted some hand sanitiser on her hands and took her off downstairs.

Of course we didn’t know then that it would be her final day. But I suspected. People were saying that everything would be back open in a few weeks. A local soft play centre had a big section on their website about how they’d see everyone at Easter. I couldn’t see it. I didn’t see how schools and nurseries wouldn’t be closed for months. There was no way I could imagine most children going back until September. A couple of hours later, about half ten, it hit me. I’d dropped my daughter off at nursery for the final time. I ended up curled up on the sofa in my office sobbing for ten minutes.

I felt that I’d been robbed of something. That I couldn’t celebrate a little milestone in my daughter’s life. It will be the same in September on her first day at school. When it was my son’s first day we were all there. I could stand next to his mother and watch him confidently stroll into the building, chatting merrily away to his new teacher, ready to start a new chapter in his life.

But come September, only one of us will be able to drop daughter off, in order to restrict the number of people on the school grounds. In order to keep her safe. My son will be starting his school day ten minutes later, meaning we’ll probably end up with one us taking our daughter first, then the other heading out with our son ten minutes later. One of us is going to miss that milestone. Only one of us will be able to give her a little hug before she goes in for the first time.

None of this can be helped. It all is what it is and there’s no way round it. In the scale of things, it’s a relatively small thing to be robbed of. My daughter will come out of it fine. She’s four. She’ll be okay. If she remembers anything of this time, it will probably of those six months she got to spend every day playing with her elder brother, who she dotes upon. And perhaps that’s what I should try and concentrate more on. She’s been happy the last few months. Has played a lot, has enjoyed herself. When you’re four, that’s probably the most important thing of all.