|MOVING ON: Alec and Bobby say goodbye to primary schools today|
It was a nervous Bobby who stood on stage surrounded by his year group, about to embark on the performance of their lives. Nervous, it turns out, for all the right reasons. This is the week he leaves the comfort blanket of primary school behind. This is the night that all his small acts of bravery over the last six years culminate in one giant courageous performance.
There are two performances tonight. The show that the 11 year-olds are putting on for their parents is impressive, but nothing compared with the performance it requires to pretend to be fine about the massive changes ahead. I speak for Bobby of course, and not for his peers, but judging by the tears accompanying the Bruno Mars song 'Count on Me', it's a pull for all of them.
Here is the face, once so small and babyish, who barely made it onto stage in Foundation Stage without plenty of bribery and a costume daubed with Numberjacks. Here is the little guy who hardly spoke when he entered primary school, now singing and acting with all of his mates. Making an announcement at the end. Bright red with the emotion and pressure of it all, but getting the job done.
It's a triumphant end to a successful stage of his life. I've put everything into this, as have his teachers and his teaching assistant M'lanie. We've given it all we have, and at the end of it we have a happy, confident individual loved by his friends and capable of real emotional sensitivity.
I've only just gulped back one set of tears and it's time to head to Alec's school for his leavers' assembly. Alec has a vague notion of what's going on (it isn't Christmas and it isn't his birthday so he must be moving school). The book he's presented with charts his successes in humorous terms as well as serious ones.
Remember that time you were on the residential trip, Al, and got high as a kite on marshmallows when the TA wasn't looking? That time you were twiddling plastic reptiles and then nearly tried the same thing with a real one when the zoo came to visit? Alec's ability to laugh at tickling himself is pointed out by several, his admirable determination when it comes to food is a constant theme and his generally laid back approach to life is admired by all.
Handing your kids over to other adults during the day may be a relief in some ways, but it's also a massive worry, particularly when they're only five. Then you realise that there are people out there capable of loving and caring for them in the same way that you do. It's not you and them any more, it's an army of people preparing them for the world.
And I am grateful to every single one of them.