Last night, as I tucked the blankets around him, I hugged him tight and told him ‘this is the last time I’m going to get to say goodnight to my little five year old’ I saw his face light up. It lit up with the realisation, not just that it would be his birthday in the morning, that there would be presents, and cupcakes to take to school, but that things were changing for him. I consider six to be one of those liminal times, where the mother-centred life of early childhood elides into something more external and outward-focussed. If I remember correctly, in his book ‘Raising Boys’ Steve Biddulph talks about six being the age when boys go from being (and I wish I had a more elegant way of saying this) their mother’s children to being their father’s children.
It’s a happy coincidence that his birth happened so close to the winter solstice – these are the darkest, most home and hearth focussed weeks in the year and as the light increases, we tend to become more outward looking. Less interested in hanging around home with our nearest and dearest, more likely to head ‘out’ somewhere. This mirrors what I feel is happening for Asher.
I’m feeling really good about this blossoming. I feel somehow safe, like this is the right time for this. I don’t want to keep him a baby or push him away. I want to walk half a step behind him, ready to answer his questions and share his joys, ready to note points of interest and encourage him to get up when he falls. I want to watch him grow into himself.
I think I might start him catching the bus to school after these school holidays, just one or two days a week. That way I can let him know that I trust him to be safe as he goes out into the world.