A Thank you to Nursery…
This month, Erin will be attending her last ever session at nursery, and we wave goodbye to preschool and the friends, both staff and children, that she – that we – have made over the last four years. To say I am feeling emotional is somewhat of an understatement! We have created so many memories at her nursery, and her journey there is something that I am sure none of us will ever forget.
She started as a baby and leaves as a big girl.
I remember those settling in sessions like it was yesterday. Passing over my smiley happy 11 month old, who had pretty much been glued to my side since her birth day, and watching her big eyes well up and mouth turn downwards as I made a hasty retreat to the door. You reassured me that she’d be fine once I’d left the room, and you were right – by the time I got to the cctv screens in the foyer, a mere few metres away, she was playing nicely and clambering into a ball pit. It didn’t stop me from sobbing all the way back to my car.
Still breast fed, and refusing to take a bottle, those early days were a wrench for both of us. She wanted her Mum and struggled to sleep without me to comfort her. You took my place – you held her and rocked her, snuggled and soothed her, the best I could have hoped for when I couldn’t be there myself.
You shared my delight when I came running in one Tuesday morning to declare that Erin had taken her first steps. You had a twinkle in your eye and I will never know if my time really was the ‘first time’. She may have been doing laps of the baby room for weeks for all I knew but you saw how desperately I wanted to have seen that milestone for myself, and if she had taken steps before, you never let it show.
You greeted Erin each morning with a smile, and we laughed as one of her first words was “HIYA!!”, with her toothy grin and an enthusiastic wave to her keyworker when she arrived every morning. She immediately reached out for a cuddle, meaning that I could continue my journey to work feeling guilt free and reassured.
You laughed with me as I came one day to pick her up and stood aghast watching her tuck into her chicken curry with her own little spoon. This, the girl who wouldn’t eat a thing at home, was happily sat dining with her friends, feeding herself and sipping from her cup. You taught her that, and the peer pressure of others eating around her bought her confidence on no bounds.
Moving to Tweenies felt like a huge step in Erin’s little life – a new room and a new set of faces, yet your welcoming and friendly key worker let her feel immediately at home.
You helped me through Erin’s grabbing and scratching phase, reassuring me when I felt like a terrible mother but struggled to explain to a 15 month old about gentle hands. You taught her to be kind, and more importantly, to avoid gouging other children’s eyes out.
You watched in awe and encouraged her as more and more words came out here little mouth and her love of books grew stronger by the day. She became aware of music, gaining rhythm (of a sort!) and appreciation for songs and dance. That passion has never left her, even if her tuning is a little off at times!!
You watched with joy as she recited her one to ten, and her little face swelled with pride when we applauded her efforts with a smile. You gave her paint, and playdoh, slime and shaving foam. You let her play with all the things I would never be brave enough to try at home.
She learnt to share, albeit at times reluctantly, and she grew confident playing with others, and using her imagination. Blocks became towers, sheets became dens, and boxes became houses.
In Tots, her walking became running, and true friendships started to form. Erin would tell me who was her favourite, and to this day they are as thick as thieves. She would ask for her at bedtime, and tell me that she missed her. I will be sad when she has to leave her best friend, and they go on their own separate ways.
We said goodbye to nappies and we welcomed the pull ups and big girl pants, with you supporting our methods from home including reward stickers on her chart – it was a tatty piece of cardboard and a 99p pack of Frozen stickers, but you rolled with it, and praised Erin at every step. Consistency really was key, and having your support and reassurance when the inevitable accidents came (and went) was paramount.
You shared my delight when I told them that Erin was going to be a big sister, making Erin feel so special and giving her attention at a time when she could be feeling vulnerable. You spent time teaching her about siblings and babies, so her role as big sister was reinforced in every angle of her life.
When we moved up to preschool I wasn’t allowed to call it nursery anymore. She would correct me every time. “It’s preeee school mummy NOT nursery!” She became more independent, going to the toilet unassisted and dressing herself. Whilst her choice of outfit was sometimes questionable, it was amazing to see her blossom.
When Neve was born, you gave her some extra love and support when Mummy was in hospital, without a doubt Erin’s most challenging time of her life. She was confused. She had a new big sister title but Mummy and her baby sister weren’t at home to share it with her. You helped her understand that Mummy was getting better and that we would all be back together soon.
When I finally arrived home from hospital, 5 weeks later than expected, you sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. A simple gesture, but it really meant the world, more than I can ever explain.
Those walks to nursery… sorry preschool, because a major part of my rehabilitation. A ten minute walk taking me 45, I pushed myself to do it, to get that normality back in my life. You not only supported Erin through that time, but you supported me. A friendly face to hold the door open, and the offer of dropping a forgotten changing bag round to my house are the little things that go above and beyond.
In December we witnessed Erin’s first nativity – a show which almost every parent left with a tear in their eye. It was you who taught Erin to sing and dance with confidence, and it was my proudest moment ever watching her deliver her Gold as one of the three kings. She did spend more time picking straw out of her hay bale and waving at me than she should have, but it was rustic and adorable.
We’ve had star of the day and star of the week, and the excited squeals when she runs in on a Thursday, with a certificate and medal in hand. She has learnt about good behaviour and manners, and how to use her listening ears.
During her time in preschool we’ve had her first picture of Mummy, her first family portrait and the first confident writing of her own name – her recognition of numbers and letters and the manifestation of her inquisitive mind. Her colouring has changed from messy haphazard scribbles to neat sketches, staying within the lines.
And suddenly my baby isn’t a baby anymore.
At four, she is saying goodbye to Preschool, and her graduation assembly is dawning. Suddenly before I know it, we are talking uniforms and big girl shoes, book bags and curriculums, school dinners and homework. Unlike some children, she is not scared to be starting big school, she is excited. She is a social butterfly, a lively and chatty soul, and from the minute her new teacher met her, he exclaimed “she will be fine…”.
I on the other hand…. *sob*
So she’s starting the next step in her journey, and waving goodbye to the foundations. The foundations that have shaped her childhood, and made her big girl she is today.
She started as a baby and leaves as a big girl…..
Thank you to each and every staff member at The Natural Childcare Company for being such an important part of our family over the last four years. And now… a little piece of history is repeating. Prepare yourself for Erin take 2. She’s coming to get you….