Small Girl cried out, hot and sweaty, at midnight that she did not want to start school today.
Small Girl woke, pale and pinched, complaining of tummy ache and suggesting that maybe she should not start school today.
Did I listen? Would you have listened?
As we turned in the gate to her preschool Small Girl played her final card and vomited up her breakfast. I opened the back door of the car to a scene from The Magic Porridge Pot. Only smellier.
I took a deep breath (immediately regretted it) and assessed my options.
- Call it a day and go through the whole First Day routine again tomorrow.
- Drive her home for a change of clothes and risk another puke at the second attempt.
- Send her in to school half-naked.
I rummaged around in the detritus of a wet summer mouldering in the boot of the car. Amid the wellies and sandy buckets I found a small raincoat. I knew that I had packed a spare ‘bottom half’ (leggings, knickers, socks) in her school bag so we were good to go.
I left my Small Girl, my baby, washed out and smelling of vomit and seaweed.
I drove back just now with clean clothes. Small Girl took me by the hand and showed me the way to the leithreas (bathroom, in Irish) and talked me through the correct use of galunach (soap) and uisce (water).
She showed me, with great pride, the Disney Princess jigsaw that she had just completed but pointed out that there were two in the box so I could go home now and maybe call back when she has that one finished.
I am reeling. It was all chaos, bedlam, snot and tears. Now, just the insistent whirring of the washing machine, a pigeon coo-ing, a car ba-thumping over a speed bump.
I want her back.