The skirt, clean and new hung neatly at the end of the bed. The dark blue blazer, with it's embroiled K and S hung on the door still covered in it's plastic, the plain white blouse freshly ironed hang next to that. I stood there last night looking at these items and wondered where the time had gone. Was it really today that you would be starting secondary school?
The years have passed so quickly, from when you were a baby and I nicknamed you the exorcist, your uncle Paul named you chicken legs because you were so skinny. Every time I fed you a bottle you would chug it down, your gums clamping on the teet like a vice. When you had finished I would spend 30 minutes winding you and you would then bring it all back up, hence the nickname 'exorcist' no wonder you had 'chicken legs'.
I remember when you first came home from hospital and I had your name printed on the back of my England shirt, I've still got it hidden away ready for when you turn 18, we had just beaten Germany for the first time in years at the Euro 2000 championships. I was a little worse for wear and sang you football songs for most of the night, your mum didn't mind and you kicked your legs and smiled at me, at least I thought it was a smile, perhaps it was wind, I'm sticking with a smile. You have joined me at Dagenham games and been to Wembley with me as well, memories I hope we both shall cherish.
You have grown so quickly and I know now that as you enter Secondary school the time will go even quicker. You will face new challenges, make new friends, and eventually will decide what career you want to do for the rest of your life. You have some many new and exciting adventures in front of you, and yet I feel I'm losing you a little every day.
The daughter I have loved and nurtured is growing into a beautiful, well adjusted young lady, who still cuddles up to me when we watch Doctor Who, but will eventually spend her Saturday nights out with her friends rather than with me, her old man. It's a good job this isn't paper otherwise it would like like one of your nanny's birthday cards with all tear stains on it.
I just wanted you to know that I'm proud of you, as is your mum and everyone else that knows you. That we will be here for you when you need us, to encourage you to try harder, to make the right decisions and sometimes perhaps to tell you no. To tell you well done, to tidy your room and do your homework, these years that are in front of you I want you to remember them for the right reasons, to look back on them and see what you achieved and never forget that we were always there for you.
This is your time to spread your wings, to dream your dreams and fulfil them, as much as I want you to stay 11 years of age forever I know that I can't and you have to start the path that will lead you into the rest of your life. Whatever happens remember I love you and I will always be there for you whenever you need me. Good luck Laura I hope Secondary school is everything that you hope it is. I love you dad x