My Tiny Humans: Learning to do hard things

With the start of the school year, Natalie Moutafis assumed it would be all about beginning prep - she soon realised it was also about the littlest one learning to do hard things.

Today the eldest Tiny Human started prep— a momentous day in the Tiny Human household. There were a few tears and uncertainty before we even got to school, but he took some deep breaths and walked bravely into the classroom with his new teacher and classmates. We are so proud of him and know he’s ready for this next stage of learning.

Thanks to Covid-19 protocols, the school drop off was short and sweet. It was then time for childcare drop off for our littlest Tiny Human. She’s moved up to the pre-kindy class at our childcare service.

I thought this post would be about the first day of big school for my son, but it’s not; it’s about how the littlest one is learning to do hard things too.

This is the first time in her short life that she’s had to do something by herself. Her big brother is no longer there to hold her hand or cast a cheeky smile her way in reassurance. She won’t be able to find him in the playground at lunchtime. She’ll have to find her way.

I’ve no doubt she’ll thrive. But it’s a significant change for this tiny human. After an extended period at home over the holiday break, she returned to childcare for the first time this year, and it was all new again. New room. New educators. A new dynamic of no big brother.

In all the hype about starting ‘big school’ for the big kid, our little lady was somewhat overlooked. We assumed she’d handle it well as she’s been there before; it’s not new. No new uniform, and no new school. No major change to her routine.

But that’s not the case when I stop and think about it.

With her arms outstretched to me as I left her tear-stained face this morning, my heart broke a little and I held back my own tears. I know she’ll be completely fine; likely smiling and playing some five minutes after I’ve walked out the door.

She is safe, and her educators do an excellent job teaching and caring for her. But it doesn’t make it any easier. Even though I’ve been here before, with teary drop-offs, sweet chubby fingers grabbing at me for one more hug and kiss, and that little voice pleading with me to ‘please don’t go, Mumma, I want to stay with you, I’ll miss you’, it’s not easy. It’s still incredibly difficult. And I continue to feel an enormous amount of #mumguilt at leaving her at childcare – when will that ever subside?

I can’t wait to see how she thrives this year. How she’ll come into her own, make new friends, and find her place in her world. When I asked her this morning what she wanted to do for work when she was grown up, she told me ‘kindy teacher’ so I know she’s having meaningful experiences if that’s her current career aspirations (at not quite three years old).

It’ll be time to pick her up from childcare soon enough, and I’ll hear about her day. I’ll get a big squeezy cuddle, have my face covered in sloppy little kisses, and proudly be handed her masterpiece of the day to oooh and ahhh over.

Until then, I’m going to enjoy a cup of hot coffee without little hands and arms pulling at me, asking me to find an elusive unicorn ring, or transform a Transformer toy. I’m going to work, chat with my grown-up colleagues and remember who I am again. I will sneak a look at photos of my two Tiny Humans and miss them deeply and hard. I know that big school and pre-kindy will feel more familiar to them in a few weeks, and they’ll have found their groove.

I know that our littlest Tiny Human can and will do hard and brave things, even at the age of two; after all, she’s had her big brother to show her the ropes.

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About Natalie Moutafis

Natalie Moutafis is the author of our Tiny Humans blog, providing her engaging and insightful take on life with two young children. Natalie is also a project manager at ISV.

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