In praise of missing things… like Year 6

A fish-eye view of the school we’ll miss. Can you spot the boat and tree house in the playground? pic by Martin Woolley.

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is not about lost socks. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

Lola, 14, came home early from school this week. It was raining again. What could we do that didn’t involve Facebook? I found the lovely carved cedar box that is kept locked with the most ingenious device (a sort of key). She’d never been inside this family treasure box before and was amazed to see hundreds of tiny envelopes with old-fashioned stamps from all around the world.

Inside are letters and receipts kept by my grandfather George Baird when he was stationed in Hong Kong back in 1937. He seems to have had friends and family corresponding from Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya and Scotland. Many are from soldiers just like him, writing about the countries they are stationed in – often critically, but they were clearly developing a fascinating world view. Nigeria for instance was producing ground nuts, palm oil and tin – and “we are doing pretty well from it”.

Most of the letters are written in such hard-to-read ink scribbles, so different to emails. But together Lola and I could read aloud and unpick most of the words. Time just flew as we found out that naughty William (whoever he was) was at last at boarding school (“god willing he’ll stay there”); that it’s risky going home to a cold house with scarlet fever and that my grandfather’s mother’s house had just suffered from the “ceiling falling in”. The builder was apparently on his way. Good thing too as this was December even though “the roses and gentians are still flowering”.

My Grandmother’s writing was always tough to read, even when she was in her 20s. She sent one from the steamer when it stopped to refuel at a steaming hot Port Said – there’s even a stamp covered in pyramids. She was going to join her husband in Hong Kong.

Didn’t she miss the kids?
I’ve always puzzled about this trip because it meant leaving her two children, Diana, 6, and Angus (who was so little at the time, 2 years perhaps) behind with their Granny for a year. The implication was that their mum didn’t mind at all, and it was all stiff upper lip and no family affection. But this letter shows this is not true. It is full of longing from Catherine, who hopes to soon see her husband and the horribleness of leaving the children behind. She called it “dreadful”.

In contrast my little hiccup about saying goodbye to the primary school Nell has enjoyed for the past seven years is nothing. It’s really just a change of routine.

Other parents keep saying to me, oh it’s your last summer fair, your last concert, your last term, and now your last week. And that’s right. It’s all that. But I think seeing my grandparents’ letters has helped put it all in perspective. Nell, 11, is moving on to a secondary school; she’s still going to be living in the same home with me.

Moving on
Missing her old school will simply be a chance to relive happy memories of a fantastic primary school experience. Thanks to everyone who has had a hand in that. And good luck to all of you whose children are moving on whether from nursery to reception, into middle or secondary school, or sixth form, or a gap year, or university… Or something different entirely.

Over to you
What are the things you’ll enjoy missing most about your child moving on? (For me it’s going to be the walk to school through a park, with the dog, utterly lovely).

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6 Comments on “In praise of missing things… like Year 6”

  1. nicola baird Says:

    From Facebook:
    Melanie “Oh Nic I love reading your blogs, and yes I have recently spent the last week swallowing the lump in my throat as Joe said his goodbyes (they have finished already) I’ll too miss walking the dog to school and having the small talk in the playground, end of an era but the beginning of new one, good luck to Nell in her new school x

    Nicola Baird “Mel, we’ve been missing you for years now! Tnk you for your lovely kind words and v good luck to Joe as well. Now off to last concert… N x”

    Kelly “And how fab Nell was in the last concert! As of yet I’ve not managed to feel emotional in any way about Orla leaving… But I expect the leaver’s assembly will do me in. Ps hello Mel!”


  2. I find the end of primary school difficult to handle – my daughter will be going into year 9 in September and when she finished primary school I was inconsolable for a while. My son has one more year at primary, and then will be done there, I’m sure I’ll be even more inconsolable then as that will mean I am done at primary too! I think it’s because you really know they’re growing up when they head off to secondary. As you say though, you just have to put it into perspective and realise that it’s not the end of anything it’s just a transition to another stage.

    • nicola baird Says:

      Vanessa, I hope it’s less painful than you anticipate. Until then, enjoy the summer holidays – so exciting to have children around again properly… Nicola

  3. Nicky Says:

    My youngest son leaves primary school today and it has only just dawned on me reading your blog that my last few weeks of melancholy about their early years has been triggered by that event! It really does feel like the end of an era – and the end of the early years. My eldest son who went up to secondary school last year is already so independent. My role in their lives in changing and that is lovely and a bit sad at the same time!
    Thanks for the blog 🙂

    • nicola baird Says:

      Nicky, it was your hashtag #endofyearsix that got me thinking about this! Have a lovely summer. Right now I’m just about to celebrate #endofyearsix for Nell with a delicious drink with her Dad & anticipate plenty of thank you toasts that we’ve made it this far. Hope you can do the same! Nicola

  4. iwqthankpaclymo1985 Says:

    Reblogged this on Alicia Davis Blog.


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