Andrea Mara

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Stopping to smell the roses because eight is great

I could post an update on how not-swimmingly settling into school is going – I could tell you about all the imaginary conversations I’ve had with the imaginary play therapists and agony aunts I’ve had this week, and all the imaginary answers they’ve given me (“He’ll get there, keep doing what you’re doing, it’s a big change for him”) or I could just share my gin photo again.

When life gives you lemons - Offie Mum

But I think I need a break from all of the school stuff, and in a way I got that break this afternoon watching four eight-year-olds playing together.

Eight-year-olds are just brilliant, and I haven’t been giving them enough credit – well at least, not enough to mine. I already know this, and have written before about expecting too much from my first-born child, but it doesn’t always or even often stop me before I let out an annoyed comment or a heavy sigh.

But I watched her this afternoon playing with three friends – racing around on scooters and bikes, playing cops and robbers, playing with baby dolls, giggling and laughing all the way through, and not a cross word from any of them, and thought what a lovely age this is.

I listened as she distracted her little brother this morning when he was getting cross, and when she explained to him why making friends is great and how to do it – using his favourite TV program as an illustration of her point, and I thought what a lovely age this is.

I nodded along to her extravagant birthday party plans and she nodded along when I reined her in, and I thought what a lovely age this is.

I also noticed this week that she isn’t as effusive when she kisses me goodbye at the school gate anymore and I asked her about it.

“Mum,” she said, smiling, and took me by the hand. “Sit down for a minute,” she continued, leading me to the bench by the kitchen window. “You see, when girls get a bit older, they don’t really like to kiss and hug their mums as much at school. But it’s OK, it happens to everyone, and we still love you.” That was me told. And a gentle reminder to stop and look at the good stuff, to appreciate how wonderful she is right now.

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And it all changes so quickly. Tomorrow, I may have a charming four-year-old helping me deal with an over-tired eight-year-old, and next week, I will definitely no longer have an eight-year-old at all, as she turns nine. So for now, I’ll stop and smell the roses.

And in the meantime, my imaginary doctor has prescribed a glass of wine, a slice of cake and a smidgen of online shopping, so I’m off to take my medicine.

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