For the last week or so people have been saying things like, ‘Oh, so the holidays are nearly over?’
No, possums. My holidays are just about to start.
Started today, in fact. Three children went off to school on the bus at 7:30a.m. and number four went to kindy with her daddy. Kindy is not his final destination obviously, just hers, although judging by the lack of enthusiasm he was showing for going back to work he might well have preferred a day of playdough and glitter.
However. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the time the kids are home – I get to sleep in a bit and don’t have to worry about forgetting to do the three o’clock pick-up – but I can’t get much done. At least nothing that I need to be able to think about and nothing that I want to stay done for more than ten minutes. So there’s a certain feeling of being able to breathe again between nine and three when term starts. I know you know what I mean.
Today Amy’s going back to the same class and teacher as last year, Noah’s going to a new class but with several of his best friends, and Daniel’s going to a whole new school. Bet you can’t guess which one I’m most nervous for.
I’ve often thought that if you added up all the time and emotional energy Josh and I expend on the educations of Amy and Noah combined it would equal approximately ten percent of that which Daniel’s schooling sucks up. It’s not his fault at all, poor kid – you can read the full story here. Today is no exception.
Partly I’m a smidgeon on edge because we’ve invested a fair bit of hope for a better outcome in this change of schools, and I’m aware that it may not be the magic bullet that we’re looking for. At the end of last year we realised that, although for the previous two years Daniel has had excellent teachers who couldn’t have done more for him, he was never going to have anything but a negative attitude towards being there because all his conscious thoughts and feelings about school were filtered through the frustration of his first few years and that early impression was just too powerful to get beyond. For the last two years he’s actually been having a pretty good time at school but none of us, parents or teachers, could get him to see that because the inner voice saying that school is boring and bad things happen there was just too entrenched.
So our hope now is not so much that the new school will be better in any qualitative way, just that its very differentness will kind of bump him out of that way of thinking. We’re hoping he’ll be rebooted, at least enough that he’ll be able to recognise when he’s having a good time and is doing something worthwhile. We’ve chosen for him to be in a boys-only class which involves plenty of sport, boy-friendly topics of study and a teacher who understands that sometimes wrestling is more important than writing. They have a subsidised gym membership and once a week they all jog along to the town gym for a workout, which Daniel thinks is the bomb-digitty. He’ll be far from being the only reluctant writer so we’re also hoping that it’ll be a place where he feels as though he fits in.
We allowed Daniel some element of choice in this decision, which we’ve discovered with him is the biggest part of whether or not he’ll become invested in something being successful. Once he realised that it meant going straight from year 5 to year 7 he was all in, and has remained so through the holidays with a constancy that has surprised me. He even conceded that his new uniform ‘doesn’t feel as silly as it looks’ – high praise indeed.
I did not get a first-day photo of him going off this morning in the uniform. I don’t know how the rest of you do it. The whole making-lunches thing combined with the 7:30 bus thing is a hurdle high enough that I can barely scrape over even without additional tasks thrown in. But he looked happy. He got up without complaining and seemed keen enough to be out the door. Perhaps I should have made more effort with the photo because Daniel being eager to get to school is not something that happens often.
Maybe that will change. Maybe having a teacher who’s all about boys and a class where he’s not the odd one out in some way will do the trick. Even if it doesn’t I can’t imagine us regretting the decision. His new experience can’t be worse even if it’s not much better, and Josh and I were seriously heading down the stomach-ulcer and high-blood-pressure road with things as they were so it’s a huge relief for us to be out of a fraught and emotional situation at the very least. Which is just as well because Cassia starts school this year and I just…good grief. That child.
So here’s to the start of a great new year for all the little pilgrims heading off into the world of learning today, and to their parents waving them off with a hanky in one hand and a gin in the other. Let the good times roll.