Today marks the end of my daughter’s time at primary school. It is also one of the proudest moments in my life.

I woke up this morning with a feeling in my stomach that something was going to happen. I had no idea if I felt good or bad but it was an uneasy feeling. I could barely eat anything. My breathing felt shallow and I was anxious but in a good way (if that makes sense?).

My wife and I had been made aware that our daughter may be receiving an award from her school at the leavers service in the local church but we were previously unable to go. However, since being told by a friend (not the school I hasten to add) that it may have been something pretty special we pulled out the stops to go. My wife sent texts to  her boss last night and a friend of mine offered to cover me for 2 hours in the morning to enable me to watch.

And we weren’t disappointed. There was a beautiful service, full of singing and complimentary words about all of the children in the school. Certificates were handed out and smiles were beaming. Then the time came when the last awards had been given out. This was an award that is given out to students who set an example in their everyday commitment to school, friendships and learning. Inked20245949_10155084099878369_3433699663216483573_n_LI

Reading these words written about our daughter brings me to tears as it shows me that we have done something amazing between us. There were also comments from other parents who told us that their children (in younger years at the school) look up to her and were genuinely upset that she is moving to high school. Some of their children were crying and begging her not to go. To know the impact that my 11yr old cheeky little monkey has on other people is a feeling of both pride and love.

Throughout my life I have been nervous of new people, scared to make friendships in case they go sour and I’m left all alone so I have created a little bubble around myself to stop myself getting hurt. It is this bubble which has protected me through 4 primary schools, high school, college and higher education. However it has left me with a lasting distrust of making new friends which I am trying to overcome gradually. My anxiety has actually opened more doors than I thought it would and it has let me make new friendships which I hope will continue to flourish. Whether it’s been through the amazing Anxiety Cafe I go to once a month or just by talking to people more I am gradually adding some confidence back in to my broken shell and with time I will repair the cracks in it.

My daughter on the other hand is the complete opposite of me. Life is never dull with her around, even when she’s in a ‘Tracy Beaker’ style strop and won’t listen to a word we say to her. She is full of life and always sees the good in people. She is confident in herself and her abilities and has a wonderful support network of friends around her which, even though she is going to a different high school than some, will be around for a very long time. She takes on challenges with a smile (and a bit of pre-teenage attitude) and encourages others to do the same. On the days that I feel low and close to giving up she is there with a warm hug and a soothing voice that says “It’s o.k. daddy, I’m here”. She has seen me at my worst. Scratched arms from clawing at my skin, red eyes from sobbing uncontrollably and shaking from sheer terror and all she does is hug me.

No judgement. No questions. Just love.

We could learn a lot from her