30 years ago I started secondary school. For me that meant the purchase of a hockey stick and a wicker basket with a plastic elasticated cover, which makes me sound like I went to Mallory Towers. In fact it was a grammar school in a country town and a world away from where my daughter starts tomorrow.
As a consequence when she asks me questions about what it will be like I’m struggling to imagine. There was no such thing as streaming at my school. No vertical forms, thumb print activated lunch purchases, online homework setting or even any boys. There was also no such thing as being sent to isolation for forgetting your PE kit (and no such thing as isolation at all). We just had to borrow some scratchy blue PE knickers and get on with it.
I do remember being scared on my first day, but most of the children I knew were heading to the same school and I certainly didn’t have to negotiate a bus at the crack of dawn so it’s not really comparable.
Moving from a primary school at the end of the road with only 60 pupils per year to a big comprehensive is bound to be daunting. She has to negotiate a bus pass and there are no such things as coat pegs anymore so lugging things around is the norm. I guess however much we are both worried, by this time tomorrow she’ll have her feet firmly on the next step of her journey.
I’ve found today emotional. I welled up watching a Youtube clip of a man not being allowed to buy a coffee for a homeless person. I cried when I read an article about North Korea, and again when I looked through some old school books.
This is one of those rites of passage that you can never imagine when they are toddling about in nappies. It seems so grown up while at the same time not grown up at all. She isn’t exactly independent – we haven’t mastered melting cheddar onto a crumpet yet without throwing cheese at the wall. Food technology (I nearly wrote Home Economics then) could be a challenge.
I want to write her a note and put it in her lunch box, but I suspect that’s not cool. I’ll just have to spend all day wondering what she’s up to and hanging out with my youngest daughter who I still frequently refer to as the “little one”, despite the fact that she’s extremely tall and a lot more capable with a crumpet. I expect the hours will trickle by a bit.
So for all the parents and children facing this big change tomorrow, I’m sending my love. It’s trite to say they grow up so fast, but they really do, and I’m guessing things might accelerate from now on. Onwards and upwards (figuratively and literally).
To my eldest daughter, and all her 11 year old friends starting secondary this week, you rock.
Photo by Zachary Staines on Unsplash
Blimey – I hadn’t realised it was 30 years… You seemed so confident. You were 11 months older than me and the fact that most of the girls from your primary school came to the High made it seem you knew EVERYONE, across all four classes. I was envious (in a nice way) and really wanted to be your friend. I only knew one other person.
I hope your big one has a great first day. My two are a bit younger than yours and my little one starts Reception class tomorrow. He’s not a baby anymore and it’s the end of an era for me too!
I know, I was shocked last night when I added up how long ago it was. My Dad told me that parenting is one long slow letting go, and it is exactly that isn’t it? Wonderful to watch them grow and develop into fantastic independent people but emotional. I hope your youngest enjoys his first day in reception – seems so long ago for mine while at the same time feeling like five minutes…