Once I stood at the school door until out came a little girl carrying a painting in one hand and a lunchbox in the other. And she looked up at me and took my hand and we went home.
Except that it wasn't once, of course, it was every day for a year, until she decided that I should wait beside the car because she was big enough to walk over to me on her own. And that was the first measure.
A year later the parking spaces were moved; but now she was big enough to appear round the corner and come down the path, out through the little gate all by herself: straight and tall as you like, with her ballerina feet turned out and her fleecy hat perched on the top of her head. That was the second measure.
Then she moved to Big School and though she wanted to walk all the way, I picked her up along the route, at the start at least, and in that compromise I found the third measure. For in Going Home Time a growing independence can be gauged, and accepted. For a little while her big brother drove her - and that was a milestone I remember measuring for myself, that was a big one, all those years ago - but now she walks again, all the way, to see and be seen (and I remember that one too), and to work those dancer's legs. One more year of walking and we'll have reached the end of the tape.
But I have a new one: a new way of watching how she grows. At her party last week I discovered the pleasure of taking a step backwards as she moved forwards. I stood behind her as she opened the door to find her friends waiting for her, and I looked over her shoulder at their welcoming faces, and that felt good. I hovered behind the shoulders of her friends too, watching them queue up to hug her and shout and shriek and that seemed right. I even took a photo of their backs in focus and of the hugging way in the background, because it was a good moment, to know that slipping away felt like the natural thing to do. As parties go, this one had a little of everything.
So I made a page.
Details, DetailsWhat I was thinking as I cut and stuck:
1. Thinking about white space and picking out the colours from the photos, considering the Simple Stories I Am chipboard and
2. rejecting the heavier, darker letters, which are lovely and do pick out her leather jacket, but which draw too much emphasis to the bottom of the page and away from the main action.
3. The party banner was too hard to resist, plus it gives little flashes of extra colour which I then picked out with the MME enamel dots.
4. I took away the chipboard butterfly - too heavy again, and in the final version added a little wood veneer bird as a "flying" motif and some red at the bottom, for good cheer. The polka dot silhouette has been in my scraps basket for about two years. There is a large white "&" there too, which is a little hard to see in the picture. Finally I added some black ink drops because they always help to hold the eye on everything else on the page. Finished.