Little boy in red stands on the doorstep. Fresh-faced but unaware of what is ahead. Book-bag clutched in a clammy hand and full of nothing but potential.
We have arrived at this moment.
A milestone I have been crawling to for some time now. Some days I have crawled through mud and across glass to get to this moment. We have done the last nearly five years by ourselves to some extent, and now little boy in red is walking into the care of others. Half of his time will no longer be with me.
As he marches through the classroom door, tears and hugs echo around me from other children.
They cling on – he walks forward.
I get a cursory kiss and he is off.
Things to do.
Places to explore.
I am his backstop but he has always fought to do his own thing – a funny mix of a fiercely independent, determined spirit; and a warm, deep, creative, imaginative heart.
He is my acorn boy: a tough little nut but with the potential to grow into a great oak tree.
It does not go unnoticed to me that the acorns have appeared as school begins. They have featured in our walks as these early days of school have approached. I have collected them in my pockets, picking out a favourite to hold and to turn over and over in my fingers. So hard, so shiny, perfect, tough. The little cup they have grown in will not hold them any longer.
I note this.
I am acorn cup.
He is acorn boy.
I will always be here for him to dwell in and come back to but he must grow. He has outgrown me in some ways (even though he doesn’t really understand how he still needs me). He needs more now.
Here begins his journey to oak tree.
My deepest core prays that I have given him the best of starts possible – despite the fight that has entailed at times. May he be rooted well, planted well. May he reach towards the light, whether it be rain or shine.
There is softness under that green, brittle, acorny shell. He is beautiful to look at but hard to crack.
As he walks into this new room, in the depths of my pocket I hold the acorn in my hand and look on. And pray.
As mothers around me wipe away tears from the corners of their eyes, I feel relief. Maybe one day we will look back on that feeling and laugh. But for now I am just relieved.
I breathe out.
Goodness I love that boy.
But this acorn cup has been pushed to the limits.
It is the right time.
Acorn needs new soil.
Grow acorn, grow.
I will always be here. To watch, to tend, to dwell with.
My job is not done by any means but the journey to oak tree really begins now.
Go little acorn, go.