Remember the days
No one tells you when you enrol your child in Primary School that you will spend the next 6 years of your life reliving your own classroom hiccups, social awkwardness and academic pitfalls all over again. Maybe the Math’s Tutor in Grade 2 was overkill, but knowing what lay ahead, I didn’t want my kid to fall into the same algebraic minefield that robbed me of so much time on my roller skates.
From the outside, it looks so easy; drop off your effervescent, perfectly adjusted child at the front gates, grab a coffee on the way to work, close a few deals in time to swoop into the Kiss & Ride and collect your growing bundle of joy. I should have known when in Year 5 the newly minted teacher asked the kids to draw an image of how they felt about math’s and mine drew a gravestone with RIP etched into the mossy stone. It remains one of his best still-life depictions to this day.
In moments of absolute honesty, you have to admit that raising children is not easy. Joyous yes, mind-blowingly fabulous, yes, but easy, well not every day. While I’m being honest, it was only thanks to you-tube and Khan academy that we made it through lockdown learning at all. While I was casually making a cuppa and letting him run off for a break, I was in reality, busily solving volume problems and calculating the area of a make believe floor-plan. None of which I’m sure will help him in his aspiration to become a gamer with a million followers.
Saved by the bell
The intensity of everything your child goes through is magnified through your eyes. I recall a good friend, highly accomplished educator, speaker and mother, cringe behind the laundry door when her Mister 7 announced he’d sat alone on the bench at lunch because no one would play with him. I’m sure it happened to us all, I don’t remember it tearing me apart at school, but when your child tells you this tale, it is literally heart breaking. Should I call the school, enrol my child in a self-help group, start a journal of feelings, I don’t know…something.
My crushing moment came when mine came home from school and described the seating arrangements in class as if he’d walked into a movie theatre where everyone had their name on their chair, except him. When I scraped my heart up off the floor and had a moment to think, I was more impressed by his use of metaphor. By morning, my perfectly well-adjusted child had moved on. When I think about the primary school episodes I ponder as life defining, I realize I hardly had a lucid memory before the age of 9. The truth is they are not life crushing, they are life-affirming.
Oh the places you’ll go!
It never ceases to amaze me what we roll through year by year, going about our days, quietly absorbing even the things that shake us to the core. That there is the definition of resilience. In year 4, my little Mister went on a campaign to promote positivity and with the help of a very mindful teacher, created and hung good vibes quotes from the trees around the playground. When yesterday he pronounced his impending sadness at nearing the end of school next week, I too felt the weight that comes with shifting change.
I think it’s ok to take a moment and look back at the first grader who walked into school, tugging at both my fingers and my heart, to the big kid bouncing out. Nothing screams Braveheart more than dropping off your pre-schooler for the first time. We’ve covered a lot of ground. I’ve been utterly absorbed in every step he’s taken by my side and on his own. I’ve been needed more each year and needed less too. It’s an adventurous, wild, crazy, awakening ride, this Primary School thing. And it’s all we can do to hold on in awe while they fly!
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