It sits on the kitchen side, waiting to be filled, this symbolic reminder that my child is no longer a baby. Tomorrow she will take her brand new lunch box packed in her brand new rucksack to a brand new pre-school.
It’s no big deal. Kids start pre-school all the time. She’s been at a childminder’s and then nursery since she was eighteen months old. So why, then, does it feel like such a milestone?
It’s that lunch box. I’m sure of it.
As it sits winking at me from the sideboard, it tells me that I’m now the mum of a nearly-at-school little girl. My mornings will now begin with spreading sandwiches and packing a rucksack, not hastily throwing a nappy in a change bag and handing my child over to be fed and watered at nursery.
I have to sew labels into her clothes and do other school-type things, like be responsible for a book bag and take a pre-school diary home. It’s all very grown-up.
And, in the midst of it all, the relief that I’ll have some time back in the day to concentrate on work (and hopefully not stay up til 2am every night hitting deadlines), the pang of a finished summer and that lunch box. Sitting on the side, looking at me.
What if she can’t get the cling-film off her sandwiches? What if I make the wrong ones? What if she’s sitting in a room full of strangers, in an unfamiliar town that is not yet home, just wanting her mum?
Pathetic really, but that lunch box seems like a reminder of something tonight. A reminder of change and growing up and the life cycle of stuff.
And it’s just a stupid lunch box.