Last week I wrote about Neil’s first sports day and the end of year full of firsts. This week, a trip to toddler group has marked the end of another stage in one of my children’s lives.
On Tuesday last week, while Neil was at school and Daddy was out fishing, Caitlin and I had a few hours to kill. She asked if she could go to ‘group’, and it just so happened to be the day of the local toddler group. It’s been a long time since we went out to the group, I thought it would be a nice change for us, so we got dressed and headed out for the bus.
It amazes me how grown up she is these days. I took her to toddler group not long after we moved here, and she was still crawling. It feels like only yesterday, but it has to be four years ago. We didn’t know until we arrived, but this was the last toddler group before the summer holidays (which start next week here in Northern Ireland!). This meant it would be Caitlin’s last ever toddler group, the end of the pre-school period.
It suddenly hit me, how big a deal this was. My little baby girl, heading to school in less than three months.
She loves toddler group. I feel a bit bad now that I haven’t taken her as much as I could have. When we lived in Newcastle, there were some fantastic baby & toddler groups, and I took Neil to a few every week. Most of them were run by health visitors or sure start, and a real effort was made to help newcomers fit in.
We moved here when Caitlin was 4 months old, and I was keen to start going to groups as soon as possible. I tried one soon after, and it put me off going again. It was so clique-y, everyone in their little groups, staring at me like I had two heads. I didn’t bother going back, and it wasn’t until Caitlin was a toddler before I decided to try another one.
We’ve been a few times since then, and Caitlin has always come home full of the joys of spring, desperate to go again, but most weeks I made excuses because I just found them awful. Now that we’ve realised there will be no more chances to go, I feel awfully guilty that we didn’t enjoy more together.
Back to this week, and we were one of the first to arrive. It’s always a bit overwhelming for Caitlin when she first arrives, she usually spends the first 10 minutes just walking around looking at everything and shrugging her shoulders at me, not sure what to do with herself. She soon got stuck in to the play-doh, and spent a good half our moulding shapes out of a lovely poo coloured blob of dough. (Anyone with a play-doh mixing fear should stay well clear of the dough table, it is vomit inducing!)
Once the crafting tables had been cleared up, she ran around aimlessly for a while. Most of the toys were designed for actual toddlers, not 4 year olds. There seemed to be a few children in the same boat, all just looking with disgust at the baby toys.
The last 10 minutes of the group are always sing-along.
Caitlin’s favourite is definitely the dingle dangle scarecrow, she loves dancing along. She is also partial to a bit of row row row your boat, especially when she changes the words to ‘if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream’. She really thinks she’s the bees knees when she sings that!
And that was it. The end of her last toddler group. As she skipped out of the hall for the last time, with no knowledge at all of the door that was closing behind her, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. In just a few months time my little girl will be putting on her school uniform and heading off to school, and then the year of firsts will begin, and then before I know it she’ll be off to high school!
Ok, so that is a bit extreme, but time feels like it’s moving at super speed.
I also smiled a bit inside, as I thought about the last four years, and how so much has changed since we first came to group. I’m totally terrified of her growing up, becoming a big girl and not needing mummy so much any more, but I’m also so proud of the lovely little lady she is becoming.
Here’s to the next chapter in her little life!