Today is my youngest son’s last day at primary school. I wrote about the day he started primary school way back then so I thought it only fitting to book end it with another piece.
A glittering day.
‘Why are you riding with me today Mum? You haven’t ridden to school with me for years.’
‘Because it’s significant. It’s your last day at primary school and you’re my last kid there.’
‘But it’s not a big deal. I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve achieved. It’s just something I had to do.’
‘I know, I know. But it’s a significant day for me in a way. I have been part of that school for 12 years, since Dom started. Put your shoes on and grab your bag…’
We’ve just finished a little renovation and I thought I’d put some unwanted kitchen stuff on the nature strip ‘free to a good home’ before we pedalled off. One of my neighbours who’s a close mate was poking through the knick knacks I’d put out last night. We hugged. I looked at her two sons. One and three years old.
‘Guess what? I’m about to ride Charlie down to school for the last time.’
‘Wow really! So you’re done with primary school.’
We paused and looked at her little fellas.
‘Seems so far away’ she sighed.
‘Been there done that. I’m your here’s one we prepared earlier’
I went back in and grabbed my bike ‘Come on Charlie we’ll be la….’
Late. We’ll be late. What difference does it make? Seven years. Whatever it was that he needed to be on time for is complete. He passed. We passed.
We took off on the footpath. Then I remembered Charlie turned 13 two days ago. We’re not allowed to ride on the footpath any more.
I followed him to school. He took a totally different route to the one I took with him last. We rode passed a white vinyl couch someone had dumped out on the footpath. It with graffitied SOFA SO GOOD.
‘See that Charlie? Sofa So Good. Get it. Sofa, so far….’
He pedalled along hot and sleepy. A car beeped us. One of the dads from the school also dropping off for the last time.
So far so good.
I am so grateful to the little school where my sons have done their first leg of life. I liked it because it was a daggy little school that reflected the society my kids will be growing up in. Not to say we looked at schools. At all. We’re not clipboard clutching school shoppers. We took the eldest down to the open day in his last year of kinder and told him it was where he was going to school.
‘Okay’ he said.
I am grateful to the school for keeping it together when the things in my life were falling apart. Parents are not perfect. Nor families, children or teachers. And life is not a straight flat ride. There are ups and downs. During the time the boys have been at school I have experience one major depression, dozens of shorter visits from the black dog varying in length and severity, a high profile sacking, an abortion, relationship breakdown and some pretty sad days.
On those days when I felt I was not the parent I wanted to be or person I wished I was I thank the school for keeping it together. I was always so lucky to feel I was sending my little boys off to a stable, happy, predictable familiar and friendly place when things were wobbly with me and at home. When I was hanging by my fingernails from the precipice I knew the boys were safe at school.
Some days the quick comforting chats with parents at drop offs kept me going all day. Moments of affection and warmth showed to my children by the teachers would have been a balm to the boys as the navigated the ups and downs of their dad and I’s relationship breakdown. The kindness of the other children, sharing lunch, explaining things the teacher said they may not have understood and just laughing at their jokes would have made my sons feel everything was okay. And they were in a safe place with people who knew them and cared.
I would like to take this moment to thank the teachers, parents and children from my sons’ primary school for keeping it together and showing kindness and care to my little boys when things at home were not ideal. I cannot express how deeply moved I was many times by simple acts of friendliness, kindness and generosity.