So life at the moment is dominated (for everyone with children over the age of four) by the beginning of the school year. One by one, over the last week, most of our best friends (the ones that didn’t start last year) have made the big jump into the world of formal education and done brilliantly. Nancy starts on Tuesday. Much has been written and shared on social media about the emotional uproar connected with this move so I won't bang on about it here but I am heartbroken about it. My life without her with me 24 hours a day seems incomprehensible. Driving places without her little face chatting away at me in my rear view mirror! Lunchtimes not spent colouring in and eating exactly the same formulation of ham wraps every day! I can't bear it. She has been doing two days at nursery since February but the beginning of school heralds the beginning of the next phase of her life - her own thoughts and experiences and friendships and decisions separate to our little bubble and, although she is more than ready for it, I am most definitely not. But, like all heartbreak, I know this too shall pass. A new normal is coming for all of us and I am sure that it will be lovely.
Having said that, it all got off to a rather inauspicious start. It was 9 am, a time of the day that usually finds us all lounging on the sofa watching cartoons in our pyjamas. But not today. The house was tidy (positively gleaming), we were all dressed, Nancy had been on the lookout at the window for 15 minutes… it could only be the much anticipated home visit by the lovely reception teacher. At the exact minute she was due to arrive, Sam vomited over EVERYTHING… me, sofa, carpet, cushions, himself. It is literally the first time in his whole life he has ever been sick. With this unexpected eruption, I felt he was expressing quite succinctly how we all feel (except Nancy, who can't wait) about the forthcoming changes. To be fair, he was laid low by a horrible bug for the ensuing 48 hours but, nevertheless, the timing did not go un-noted.
On a cheerier note, once Sam was feeling better, we headed down to Southampton for the day. We visited Peppa Pig World to make the most of the few days we have left of freedom with our pre-schooler during term time. It was BRILLIANT. I have only ever heard good things about it (clean, well run, very sweet, etc.) and it did not disappoint. All five of us (obviously husband took a day off for this excursion… no better reason, surely?!) loved it. It poured with rain all morning, but the weather could not dampen our spirits. It is expensive, and far away, but for any Peppa fan (or anyone with a heart, really), I really do recommend it. On advice, we took our own picnic and were glad we did, as the food looked very expensive and pretty bog standard, but everything else was great (baby changing in both men and women's loos, bottles of formula sold in all the cafes, actual ducks in all the picnic areas as a nod to the perpetual visitors in the cartoon, classic Peppa related banter between parents in queues for rides). A day ticket includes the rest of the park, too, which looked to have some cool rides for bigger kids (although I would defy kids of any age not to love the Mr Dinosaur ride in PP World itself - my husband and I would still be going round now if the kids hadn’t moved on to something else).
I must also recommend a book we had out from the library this week that we all loved - A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney. It is such a sweet, magical book, about a mum telling her little girl about all the things that the dark might have in it, including a chocolate money tree, a hammock swung by jungle animals... just lovely things that really sparked the kids' imaginations and would be perfect for any kid that is scared of the dark. Mine aren’t, but we read it every night anyway. Another recommendation for anyone with a Lego fan in their house is Lego Masters, a great programme on Channel 4 where incredible Lego geeks build the most amazing things!! We have all watched this programme quite enraptured (did you know there are 80 Lego bricks for every person on the earth?! Most of them are stuck between the tiles in our kitchen) and turned it off inspired to build! It's finished now, but you can still get it on catch up. Do it!