So the move back to Essex seems to be going well. The boys are playing out and seeing friends a tremendous amount and the xbox and phones are barely in use which is lovely to see! Nan's never been so popular with the boys, even if it does have much to do with her biscuit barrel and unlimited wi-fi. They are both very happy which completely takes the pressure off me.
It's been a mad dash to get them ready for their return to school, with hindsight I could probably have done with not leaving the purchase of their school shoes until the last moment (!), but somehow everything always turns out alright.
The summer seemed to last forever actually, in a good way of course; generally good weather, a holiday and the two weeks of the boys staying in Essex with friends and family while I took a football coaching course (not knowing their fleeting visits were actually to be more permanent in the very near future).
I found the perfect house to rent and the move was so quick that I can hardly recall the day it happened, and now it's time to get some routine back in our lives, because as far as my story is concerned, it is an important time for Fred as he embarks on a new adventure into senior school education.
The night before, we settled Freddy in to bed knowing his uniform looked great and feeling secure knowing he had every item of stationary on his list. I wanted the morning of his first day at school to be effortless. Not our usual bedtime read but he took great comfort in me reading his school handbook to him while Kate laid between us lower down the bed.
The school ethos of 'Achieve, Endeavour and Aspire' seemed to reassure and motivate Freddy at the same time, there was a growing sense that he was going to belong to something that he could be proud to be involved in.
I like cuddling him off to sleep, especially on this particular occasion. I established some time ago that one of Freddy's values he holds most dear is simply to 'feel safe'. I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to work out why, but for all of his character and energy, at the very root of that is a boy that just wants to know you're there, not completely unlike all children I'm sure.
As I tucked him in I asked him one last time how he felt about his first day to which he replied, 'I don't have to be scared because I look smart in my new uniform and all I need to do is be myself'.
I felt quite reflective as I walked downstairs, something hadn't felt right despite the pride I felt at not just the fact Fred was heading to the senior school, but also how well he seemed to be handling it seeing as he only found out which school he would be attending a few days ago.
I spoke to Kate about how I was feeling an excessive amount of injustice that such an unforgettable milestone in my child's life is not to be shared with his mother. Maybe she does see, it's a nice thought to think she does look down, but it doesn't stop me from feeling her absence, both for her and the boys.
As parents we can very easily take it for granted that we will see the children we've conceived right through to adulthood enjoying all of the firsts, medals and accomplishments along the way and while were at it, doing the same with our grandchildren when they arrive.
Right now I cant think of anything crueller than that privilege having being taken away from a wonderful mother who was so ready to right so many of the wrongs in her own childhood through her ongoing love and support for the boys. It troubles me often and it makes the firsts slightly bitter sweet.
The next morning Freddy awoke with a smile, bright and bubbly and displaying less nerves than I expected seeing as he wasn't sure if he knew anyone in his year. It's fair to say that when the decision was made to come back, this school was not our first choice but we had some trouble finding one with spaces available. Fortunately an incredibly impressive Headmistress had assured me with her unwavering passion for her school and her students that this would be a perfectly suitable place to start his secondary education whilst showing us around the building just a week or so ago.
I'm a real believer in the fact that Bobby, Freddy and I are being assisted through life by some kind of force of nature; it might be their mum, my father, grandad, grandmother, auntie or the whole gang, or it might be that our positivity is bringing us lots of reasons to be positive, but one thing is for certain, I have a very good feeling about Freddy's development at this school.
I took the standard 58 pictures of Freddy in his new uniform and drove him one mile up the road (it also happens to be the closest secondary). I'd arranged for Fred to meet one of the players from Bob's football team who has just started Year 9 so he was more relaxed about heading in. I'm also particularly grateful I have some reliable eyes and ears in the school too!
I thought of him constantly throughout the day. How is he getting on? Did he bother to eat lunch? Has he made friends? At quarter past three I was to get my answers but as he walked out and I prepared myself to hit him with every imaginable enquiry a parent could make, he simply declared "it's ok Dad you can drive home, I'm walking back with my mates." Perfect, I thought. One simple statement told me everything I really needed to know about his day.
Bobby's first day is taking place later on this week; slightly easier for him in one sense because he has attended the school in Year 7 and heading into Year 9 his friends and teachers will all be the same. The main difference being he has an invaluable insight behind him now of how difficult school can be when you find yourself on the receiving end of someone's negative attention.
I have no doubt that will serve him further in becoming the very best version of himself he can be as he goes back to acceptance and comfortability with a very large smile on his face.
Only time can tell if this move was for the best, judging by Fred's first day and Bob's sense of peace at the moment I think I can afford to justify the smile on my face too.