Today I Watched My Oldest Child Graduate From Primary School

Seven years go he took his first steps into this same primary school. A new adventure for us both. One neither of us was particularly sold on.

A nervous four-year-old with a massive black bucket hat and shorts three sizes too big for his little legs. An anxious smile on his face. A tummy filled with butterflies. A hand that refused to let go of mine.

I was right there. Holding back the tears. Squeezing his hand tightly while he wandered around the classroom, as he took in the new surroundings and gave his new classmates a shy wave.

child graduating primary school
Source: Jenna Galley

Now here we are today. On his final day of primary school. He walks up that stage to receive his certificate, to shake his principal’s hand for the final time.

His hat fits. His shorts are almost too small. He’s got a big smile on his face this time around. A tummy most likely still filled with nerves but confidence that says he’s perfectly okay. A hand that is no longer holding mine.

He’s ready for this. I’m not.

But I’m still right here. Holding back the tears. Wanting to run up there, squeeze his not-so-little hand, and hold it tightly as he walks off the stage and into the next chapter. He gives his mates, the same friends he’s had since that first day, a goofy grin as he holds up his certificate and turns to find me in the crowd.

And I sob. Like big chunky sobs. Like “how the hell is he graduating primary school” sobs?

Why am I even crying over this? Shouldn’t I be happy?

Happy that he’s starting a new adventure? That he made it through primary school unscathed? That I can ship him off to high school on a bus next year?

Don’t get me wrong. I am happy for him and oh-so-grateful for the bus. I’m so excited to see him in his new high school uniform. To help him tie his tie (after I teach myself how to tie a tie). To remind him of his locker combination after he forgets it.

I know high school will be different for both of us. I know I won’t be able to walk him around his classroom the first day. I know he won’t be bringing home crafts like he did during those first years.

I’ll miss the school-run athletic events, the cute gifts he brings home from the Mother’s Day stall, the school discos that parents are still invited to go to.

son graduating primary school
Source: Jenna Galley

I’ll miss the comfort that a familiar environment brings both him and me.

But mostly, I’m going to miss having a primary school kid. I already do.

As the ceremony ends he comes over and gives me a hug. He hands me and his little sister a rose (like every other student) and most other mums can handle this seemingly normal gesture but nope, not me. More tears.

son graduating primary school
Source: Jenna Galley

I know what he’s thinking as he gives me a hug and an eye roll. “Everyone graduates primary school, mum. It’s not a big deal, mum.”

But it is to me. Those seven years went by so fast. And the next seven years will most likely fly by too.

But this isn’t why I stand here and cry. I stand beside him and sob not because I’m sad, but because I’m so proud of who is becoming.

The shy little boy in a big black bucket hat is now a confident young man. He’s funny, cool and clever and lights up the room when he laughs. He’s got a great group of mates and he’s a great big brother to his baby sister.

mum central
Source: Jenna Galley

He even has the eyes of a few of the girls in his class (not like I’d ever admit I noticed that). He’s overcome a lot of obstacles along the way – especially academically – and he’s managed to conquer them all.

Overall, he’s a great kid and that’s why I stand here and sob today.

Because I’m just so damned proud to be his mum.

So, to my son, my primary school graduate, my little boy who will soon be a teenager, a high school graduate, an employee, possibly a husband and a father one day, remember this:

You may be nearly taller than me now, but you will always be my little boy in the big black bucket hat. And I will always be there, watching your every step of the way, sobbing behind my sunglasses and ready to squeeze your hand, if you need it.

What to read next

Got a tween or teen? Head to our Facebook Group, Mums of Tweens and Teens Australia.

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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