We’ve Only Just Begun…
With only just over a week to go until the Teen-Tween Two start back to school, I have been musing on what we will miss about having children at primary school now that this phase of their development has ended. At the end of term back in July, my boy was so happy simply to be leaving that we didn’t dwell on what we might all miss about this institution we have been a part of for 8 years or more.
So I asked him. Here are his answers:
1. Friends that would be going to other schools and not joining him at his new school. This is an interesting one: kids have an uncanny ability to compartmentalise to a much higher degree than we mere adults. I never understood gang mentality until I applied it to this type of situation: quite baldly, if a friend is not going to my son’s school, then he’s no longer much of a friend and is not in his new “gang” which now becomes those at his new school. Despite modern technology and easy access via social networking etc., there is not a cat in hell’s chance that he will stay in touch with people he doesn’t see every day. Harsh, but true. If I applied that basis to my own life, I might never see my far-flung scattered family ever again!
2. Some of the teachers. He will miss his class teacher from Year 6, whom he loved despite the odd clash of personalities, and one or two others. Interestingly not all the teachers and, in particular, not his head teacher or one of the teaching assistant’s in his class. His aversion to some of the most influential adults in his life cannot be undone. He is adamant that he does not like them, they are not very nice people and in the case of the teaching assistant (aka “Monster”), should be kept as far away from children as is humanly possible. She, along with strange and repugnant school lunches, are high on his list of things NOT to miss about school.
3. Playtimes. Even before he has started, my boy has already garnered that playtimes at secondary school will not be the rough and tumble, football playing mayhem of his former schooldays. He manages an impressive lip-curl when he says: “S’pose we’ll be, like, talking and stuff.” Clearly talking is up there with being smeared with Bovril and licked by French poodles in terms of interesting things to do with his playtime. He will miss the greater emphasis on play at primary as much as anything: secondary school being focused on academic endeavour rather than whether you can get seven boys to fall backward in domino fashion for a full 15 minutes without a trip to A&E.
At this point, the boy’s attention span was exhausted and he needed to rest and recuperate from such a looooooong intense discussion with a grown-up. Bless him. So I turned my attention to what we, the parentals, might miss about not darkening the doors of primary school any more. Here’s our, rather more sarcastic, version:
1. Newsletters from the school. Yes, we will miss those informative missives delivered in a crumpled heap via the primary book bag each week. How will we function if not being reminded 52 weeks of the year about head-lice, the benefits of walking to school (which we do already) and the importance of reading 3 times a week (which we do much more than)? The answer is absolutely bloody fine, thanks. We have not yet felt the beginnings of early on-set Alzheimer’s nor do we have attention-deficit syndrome. So why the need to tell us the same thing week in, week out? Sometimes, when there is a different heading on the page, my husband and I clutch each other in excitement at this new world opening up in front of our eyes. Sadly, it is usually to announce that not only are there head-lice but also measles, chicken-pox and bubonic plague in the school. The let-down is immense.
2. Good Work Assemblies. Tragic will be the mornings every 10 weeks when we do not have to attend school to watch our children shuffle recalcitrantly to the front of the hall and mumble a few pre-prepared words from a card about a topic in which they have not had the slightest interest. One particularly memorable one was when the then 9 year-old boys had to explain how they had put together a country dancing sequence. They would honestly rather have had their pants pulled down in the front of the school, it could not have been more embarrassing. Fire-red cheeks and woeful tones of voice will haunt me forever having watched those poor lads hop about Munchkin-stylie in front of all the parents: definitely one to forget. While the girls probably relished such a topic, I fear it may have damaged the chaps for life. Oh – and the heat. I will miss the heat of being packed snugly next to 30 other sets of parents on chairs designed to accommodate buttocks much smaller than mine. I’m practically engaged to one or two of the other parents having shared such sweaty, intense intimacy.
3. Money. Yes, we are wondering what to do with all the extra money we will now have at our disposal as we are not gleefully filling the school coffers with cash. Without exception, not a week went by in 8 years when we weren’t asked to contribute towards, sponsor, give generously or just plain get your cash out for something that damn school needed. It was money with menaces. Not to mention the looks we got if we deigned to put a couple of tins of tomato soup in the basket for Harvest Festival. Clearly, I was supposed to make something organic with produce from the local farm shop at great expense to myself. Well, that didn’t happen. Like EVER.
Most interesting of all, perhaps, were the things the boy is looking forward to at the new school:
- Learning new subjects: he is EXCITED about learning German, has looked up fab new swear words in his dictionary already. I have started announcing “Gott in Himmel!” at the state of his room in the mornings, just to practice;
- New friends and joining up with friends he already has through football club that will be at his new, much larger school;
- Exotic school trips: he is already talking about going to Kenya although seems to have an irrational belief that he will not only contract malaria, but will in fact die from it. In Africa. Alone.
This is heartening stuff giving me hope that the transition will not be too traumatic. As for us, the thing we will really miss most about primary school is the primary school age children themselves. For better or worse, what we have here now are young adults in the making. Which begs the real question du jour: when are my husband and I planning to grow up?
Photo credit: irvinehousingblog.com