Friday, 13 November 2015

Parenting 101: A memory that became a lesson

My son is spending the day with his new teacher and class-mates today at his year 6 induction day, which is kind of a big deal in his life so far.

He goes to a school that has students from Reception through to Year 12 and the school is split into Primary School, Middle School and High School. Year 6 is the first year of Middle School so he’ll be graduating from Primary School this year with a real graduation ceremony and everything. It’s all a bit strange to me but both my kids seem to enjoy the structure of the school and so far it’s been a very positive experience for all of us.

The thing is, Nathan has a really tight posse of mates. REALLY TIGHT. Most of them went to kindergarten together and then started school at the same time. TOGETHER. They learn together, lunch together, walk together, play club-sport together, Skype together… you get the picture. And for Nathan, that’s extremely important. He’s the kind of kid who, despite being incredibly popular, really values the dynamic of having a small handful of close friends. So when he discovered yesterday that ALL of his mates were heading into one class and he was heading into another, the rug was pulled out from under his world.

And oh god how I felt for him. He was SO upset. Dejected and confused and then really worried about what lay ahead for him, especially because there is a huge intake of new [and potentially scary!] kids in Year 6. I talked calmly and sensibly and made all the right soothing noises but I was panicking inside. 

Why did they do this to my son?? How could they do this to him? How will I fix it?

I spoke to a couple of very wise mum friends who talked me off the ledge and I realised something significant. Nothing needed to be fixed. This may be well be the poster child for a ‘first-world problem.’ He just needed to understand how to manage it. I remembered my own quest to raise a resilient kid and I remembered how resilient I was when I was younger. Through necessity sure, but the end result was pretty decent.

I reminded Nathan that friendships don’t only live in the classroom but out on the oval and in the playground and on the footy field. I told him he would be fine and that he would be lucky enough to meet some new friends and when that didn’t work, I sat on the edge of his bed and quietly told him of a very special and important story...

When I was growing up, a looooong time ago, there was only Primary School and High School and they were two different schools. In different places.

High School started in Year 8 and the first time I met my new teacher in my new school with my new class-mates was on the first day of school.

I was SO NERVOUS. There was only one other girl, called Tara, from my Primary School in my class who was very nice but she wasn’t one my ‘friends’. Of course I sat next to her anyway but I was terrified that I wouldn’t have any friends in my new school.

I sat there quietly and watched as everyone’s name was called out for role call and they had to go up to the front of the class to collect something from our new teacher. I can’t remember what that something was but my surname started with B so I was one of the first people who had to go up the front. It was horrible! But over quickly and then I just sat and watched everyone else.

After some time the list got to W and I watched this girl, who I’d never seen before obviously, walk up to the front of the class. She was so confident! The boys in the class were saying silly things because boys are silly…

"No we’re not Mum!"

Well, SOME boys are silly and they were saying silly things to this girl [What I didn’t tell him, is that her windcheater had a picture of Mickey Mouse on it and the word Mickey printed randomly all over it. That was during the era that people in our neck of the woods called sperm/cum/ejaculation ‘mickey’ and those bastards were saying ‘ooooh she’s got ‘mickey’ all over her top”!] but she did not flinch! She didn’t rush and she didn’t fidget and she had no apology in her step.

I watched her and I thought to myself ‘THAT girl is going to my friend” and by the end of the day, we were friends.

"Yeah, that’s pretty cool actually. What happened next?"

Well… THAT girl is your Aunty Ilka that I’m STILL friends with today and if I hadn’t been alone that day I may not have noticed her. If I had all my Primary School friends with me, I may have only been with them and not had room in my heart for Aunty Ilka. Sometimes these scary days turn out to be the best things that could ever happen to you.

"Thanks Mum."

And just like that, my first day of high school became the gift that keeps on giving. A life-long friend AND a lesson in parenting.

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