She hides behind my skirt, hugging my leg. I take her around the class, looking at the home corner, the books, the building toys. We put her bus chain on the peg, her coolbox with lunch and snack in the locker, and her water bottle in its crate. I point at a chair that has a picture of a bear and her name: Jasmijn. She loosens up, and agrees to sit while the rest off the class trickles in. I chat to the teacher.
When I want to take a picture, for papa, for the archives, she runs away, waving an angry finger to her mama who should know better.
‘Don’t take a photo, mama.’
That’s my girl, and I know she is her own self today.
‘I’ll go now,’ I say quietly. She looks unsure.
A hug and a kiss later, she lets go, reluctantly.
I, on the other hand, am keen to go. Jasmijn starting primary school is a milestone I had been looking forward to for years. Four years. Not that I don’t like my kids, but I have found that I enjoy them more when I spend some time away from them, doing something that challenges my brain more than a game of monopoly- the junior version.
On my fingers I had counted that I would have two afternoons and one full day more childfree time than when she still went to pre-school. Twelve hours. Hours that I had already allocated to additional projects at work, a new book, more blogging. I forgot that I was usually ten hours short every week. And therefore, in reality, it would be a meagre few hours more.
These thoughts make me more stressed than I already was. I decide to take it easy, this first day of the rest of my life, and after I finish all my urgent work emails, I opt for a soothing massage.
That afternoon, when I pick her up she walks out of the class, on the hand of the teacher. I bend for a cuddle.
‘How was school?’ I ask.
‘Fine,’ she replies.
In the car I try more, what did they do all day?
She needs some time to think.
‘I played outside,’ she then submits.
‘Nice. Anything else?’
‘I played inside too.’
‘Was the teacher nice?’
More thinking. ‘Yes.’
When my next question gets no answer, I turn around to the back seat.
She has fallen asleep.