Belfast Telegraph

My daughter's first day at nursery was a lesson in letting go ... for me

By Claire Harrison

In theory, it's just a red jumper. Plain in every way apart from a small motif – just a red jumper. But there's nothing quite like the sight of your wee one pulling on a school uniform for the first time to elevate a simple jumper to a symbol of a red letter day.

Even the least smushy of mums would find it hard not to get a bit teary at the sight of your three-year-old getting ready to venture into the world of education. It feels like just a minute ago they were a delicate newborn, relying on you for every single thing. Now they've got a schoolbag and a bit of attitude to match.

It's fair to say my daughter Katie was excited about the new chapter in her short life as she started nursery school on Monday. She's been talking about it for months, asking endless questions – will any of her friends be there, what do you call her new teacher and do they have a trampoline and ice lollies?

I have to admit, the emotion of getting ready for her first day was overtaken by the stress of getting her dressed, pictured for posterity and out the door on time – via a minor crisis involving squeezing a tube of toothpaste down her front.

Her first week has been a long, drawn-out process involving building up her hours every day – including me staying in her new classroom for the duration of Monday's visit. So, when I was supposed to be at work, I was instead sitting on the floor singing Jingle Jangle Scarecrow, playing in the water tray and building a castle with Stickle Bricks. We had a ball.

Unexpectedly, the next day was when the emotion hit. Katie suddenly looked so grown up, pulling on her little red jumper. Unlike the unknown quantity of the morning before, she was now full of knowledge and chat about where she was going and who was going to be there. Tuesday involved me leaving her off, going away for an hour (to weep) and then coming back to collect her. Yesterday was the same. Of course, she got on just fine without her anxious mum.

It was baffling to find it upsetting because Katie has been doing full-time shifts in creche since she was seven-months-old, so I know she's well used to that environment. I think it was the realisation that she had taken one more step away from being our baby.

As excited as she was, I could see a flash of emotion on her face too when she first saw her uniform. There was a slight tremble of the lip and a hesitation before she ripped it out of my hand and pulled it over her head (before spending the next half hour admiring herself in the mirror and picking co-ordinating hair clips). She may be just three, but she instantly understood that a school uniform is a sign of growing up and another step of independence away from your adoring mum and dad.

"Will I be going to school forever?" Katie asked on Monday morning.

"Just for 14 years, but sometimes it will feel like forever," I replied. "And then, after that, you have to get a job, so enjoy this while you can."

She looked at me like I was mad. I hadn't the heart to tell her about the day that will arrive when she can't wait to cast off her school uniform, keen to get rid of a boring symbol of such childishness and discipline.

What's in a name? A little normality

Congratulations to Kimberley Walsh and Scarlett Johansson. Not just for becoming mothers for the first time recently – but for being brave enough to eschew the celebrity trends for saddling their kids with ever-increasing ridiculous names.

No Astro Physics for Kimberley. She called her new son a very down-to-earth and traditional Bobby when he arrived last week.

Meanwhile, Scarlett steered clear of Rocket Moon Cat when her daughter was born. Hollywood moms must have been left scratching their heads after she went for the beautifully normal Rose Dorothy, after the actress's grandmother.

Now isn't that lovely? Here's hoping it catches on.

Kate's news leaves me feeling queasy

Woman of child-bearing age is pregnant – shock!

As easy as it is to poke fun at the near hysteria to greet the news of the Duchess of Cambridge's second pregnancy, I have to spare a thought for Catherine as she copes with hyperemesis. Having been through it twice myself, I still feel a bit sick when I hear the word.

It's almost impossible to describe the trauma to anyone who's never been through it.

Royal or not, there's little you can do but ride it out – and scream at any man who asks 'Is it just a bit of morning sickness?'.

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