It's that time of year again. Parents all around the country are coming to the end of an era with their children.
Attending leaving assemblies, preparing for induction days at new schools and buying new uniforms. I went through it all this time last year. I had been dreading it. In some ways, it was everything that I had been dreading. It was a very emotional time, for me, rather than my son; but was also a very positive time and one which I wouldn't worry about should I have to do it again.
The trauma of course starts long before the physical act of leaving primary school. The trauma starts at least 12 months before when the local authority pack comes out and you start deciding which secondary school your child is going to. Then around March time, the letter arrives and, pending appeals and personal choice, the decision is made and you know that your child is off to the big grown up world that is secondary school.
As the parent of one child, it represented a huge change for me. For 6 years I had been dropping my son off at school and picking him up everyday. I enjoyed my little chat with the other mums and I loved seeing the children grow up and change. Year 6 became a year of "lasts".
Last Harvest Festival, Last Carol Concert, Last Sports Day. I am an emotional person and I knew that the other mums were all looking at me and watching for my reaction (or was it over-reaction!). I knew that if I cried that a few others would join in with me - but if I managed to hold it together than the others would too - I was the emotional indicator for all the other year 6 parents.
I actually surprised everyone at the Leaving Assembly. Parents all around me were blubbing, as were the children, but I held it together. My moment had been a week earlier at a leaving party held by one of the parents. The children were having such fun. Singing and dancing together, it was just great. And all of a sudden it hit me. This was it! The group were being disbanded through no fault of their own. Many off to different schools and this moment would never be repeated again. I wouldn't see them grow, hear about their latest escapades anymore. I ran out of the party room and stood outside, absolutely overcome with emotion. I doubt I will ever forget that moment. I was happy and proud that my son had such a lovely bunch of friends and had had such a positive experience for his primary education, but at the same time upset that it had come to an end. He was so secure and looked after there - I didn't worry - I knew he was safe.
As a mother, I was naturally worried about the next step. And I know many of the other Mums were too. What to expect ? Would he settle? Would he make friends? I thought back to my own experience of secondary school. I loved school, but I found the first few terms daunting. Suddenly I wasn't the eldest, I was the smallest. I remember dreading the journey between Upper School and Lower School for fear of being "bagged" by the big girls. Tales of being thrown in the pond on your birthday, or egged and floured. And then of course there were the toilets - gangs of girls huddled in the corner, smoking - not good.
I applied for and accepted a new job. But it would have meant my son going to after school club every night and because I was unsure how he would settle, I rang them and said that I had changed my mind. What if he was really unhappy? What if the thought of staying at school for another hour every night was just too much for him to bear? I turned it down - excessive I know - but I had to be sure.
The summer holiday was spent buying uniform and school bags that were "cool". Quite the opposite to my uniform as a child. I had very old fashioned equipment and accessories; was still in Clarks shoes and Trutex blouses and I felt odd when everyone else turned up in Freeman Hardy Willis platforms and cardigans from the local fashion store.
Last year when it was my son's turn, I made the most of every day of the summer. We went out and spent lots of time together as a mum and son and also as a family. I invited his primary school friends over regularly and all in all we had a good time.
My son went to a different secondary school than his friends and he had one day extra before starting. My husband took the day off and we had a wonderful time playing golf, and going out for lunch before the Big Day arrived.
I spent all day that day worrying. I needn't have bothered. He came out really happy. In fact the whole experience was a positive one - from the leaving assembly of primary school to the first report of secondary school.
He has been there a year now and it seems out of the group that left his primary school that there are very few pupils who have had problems settling in or making new friends and finding their way around. No reports of bullying yet or falling into the wrong crowd - all the things you worry and fret about in those months before the transition.
Several of my friends are going through the same thing this year and over thinking things just as I did.
My advice - Chill! Relax... and just enjoy the last few weeks of primary school with your child. The whole process is a very emotional one for parents, but children on the whole take it in their stride.
By year 6, they are ready to move on. Mature enough to be away from the little ones and to gain a bit of independence.
Let them go... and let them grow.
It's a hard pill to swallow - watching your child grow up and move away - but it won't be anywhere near as difficult as you think it will be.