An open letter to my four-year-old not-so little girl as she starts 'big school'
It's a child's first major life milestone: oversized school-bags; packed lunches; new shoes, and wide smiles mixed with nerves.
In less than a months' time, my little girl will be not so little. Giulia, who turned four in April, will begin 'big school'.
This week, as July drew to an end, I collected her one last time from her creche in Rathmines in Dublin.
It is the place she spent many happy hours since arriving there at the age of eight months. Outside of her own home and family, it was the place at which she felt most secure and with which she felt most familiar.
She made friends, learned to count and sing; she weathered bumps and bruises. She danced, laughed, and occasionally cried. She grew from a baby, then to a wobbler, to a toddler, and finally a preschooler.
As I picked her up and we gradually edged away from the wave of warm hugs and strained goodbyes, it was impossible not to acknowledge the significance of the day: the end of era, on the cusp of another.
With that in mind, I have written for my four-year-old daughter, Giulia, a letter as she begins big school...
Your time in your current school is over; the next chapter in 'big school' is about to begin.
I wish there was a stronger word than pride because it just doesn't feel enough to describe how I beam when I think of what an amazing little girl you've become.
You are strong and brave. You love Spiderman and swimming. You adore colouring and Paw Patrol. You climb trees with the gritty determination that defines you so wonderfully. In many ways, you're a typical four-year-old... the difference is you're my totally unmatchable four-year-old and I love you endlessly.
I hope, as you continue through your school years, your strength and bravery doesn't waver. That you remain as focused and as determined as you were during your earliest years.
I know it won't always be easy, and that being four is maybe more straightforward than being eight, or ten, or twelve, or sixteen.
But know that throughout big school, I'll walk tall beside you; I'll hold your hand; I'll pick you up, and encourage you to learn, to run, to jump, to create, to discover, and to always strive to be your best.
And your best is really quite incredible.
Good luck in big school, Giulia - always my warrior princess.