Though it seems only moments ago that we were readying our little ones for their first day of school, here we are at the end of primary school. That giant school bag that threatened to topple them over is now slung carelessly across their shoulder. The uniform that seemed so grown up has been worn (and washed!) thousands of times.
My first born finished Year 6 last year and I am here to report that it was a bumpy time emotionally. For me.
Here are the top 10 moments that hit me hard with all the Year 6 parent feels.
1. High school place acceptance
This form makes it all real. Yes, there has been agonising over which high school is best but signing an actual acceptance form has a finality that definitely makes it a moment.
2. Year 6 Camp
A good Year 6 camp embraces and celebrates just how grown-up these kids are. The camp might be longer or further away from home than previous camps and the kids are often more than ready for some fun and independence; an inkling of what is to come once high school hits.
4. High school orientation
There is nothing like spending a day within an operating high school for Year 6 kids - and their parents - to remember what it is like being the small fish in a big pond. At a welcome barbecue for parents, my friends and I stood around having flashbacks to our own high school years and hoping not to be called to the Principal's office.
5. Year 5s stepping up
My kids' primary school does a great job of encouraging their Year 6s to take on leadership roles. From October, the Year Fives do School Captain bid speeches and learn about how to be a great buddy for new school starters the following year. This process was a source of parental pride when my daughter went through it but, a year later, watching the next lot of Year Fives do the same thing came with a sinking feeling. I realised that this wonderful primary school would soon no longer be part of my daughter's life and that, somehow, it would carry on without her.
6. Final assembly
I have one word for you. Tissues. OK, three words. Lots of tissues. A final Year 6 assembly, done well, is guaranteed to tug at your heart strings big time. My daughter's year had collated a photo of each child for each of their school life and played them on a slideshow with suitably tear-jerking music. *Sob*
7. Final assembly walk out
At the end of the assembly, the Year Fives formed an arch with their hands and the Year Sixes walked through one at a time. Writing these words, nearly a whole year later, is seriously making me cry. I wasn't the only one crying at the time either – other parents were soggy messes and so were some of the Year Five kids who were sad about their cross-year friends moving on without them. *Double sob*
It's a recipe for emotion - more slide shows, a song sung with feeling by all (even the tough boys) and seeing all these nearly-teen kids in formal clothes. For me, this was also the moment of feeling emotional about the amazing work and care that the teachers have put in. I may have spied a sparkle of tears in some of their eyes too…
9. Last day of primary
By this stage, I thought I was nearly emotioned-out but the ringing of the final bell of my daughter's primary schooling was enough to prompt the mix of full range of pride, sadness, appreciation, and worry. All of this was haloed by a bigger sense of the turning of the wheels of time, of the students past and future who had reached this milestone.
10. First day of high
If you are reading this while your child is still at primary school, this final feels moment is still a while away but, phew, it's a biggie. Anxiety, newness and uncertainty dominated for me, along with a palpable feeling that my child was moving away from me into the wider world.
If any of these ten triggers for the Year Six parent feels hit you hard, rest assured that you are not alone. Some of them took me by surprise and I now know that they will be multiplied by about a thousand when it is my younger child's turn to finish Year 6…best start stocking up on tissues now…