Thursday, June 16, 2011

The countdown to the end of primary school begins.........

My emotions are all over the place at the moment, I'll admit it.

There's a potent cocktail of pride, gratitude, fear and empty nest syndrome slushing around my psyche. In just two weeks' time, it'll be Anna's last day of primary school.

I feel pride because she is (and I'm being totally unbiased here, obviously), such a clever, funny, quirky, unique, creative, lovable girl. Gratitude for the fabulous and nurturing environment provided by her school which helped settle the slightly reluctant 5 year old who wanted to stay at nursery forever and which has kept her happy and encouraged her thirst for learning ever since.

Fear because her childhood is not so much slipping as galloping away at a speed I'm not entirely comfortable with. I can't control that one though - and we just have to embrace the future.

She's spent the last 3 days visiting her high school and having a whale of a time. She's met all her new class mates and is getting on really well with them. We went last night to a parents' evening where the head of her house told us that their priority was for the kids to be safe and happy because if they ticked the boxes on those, they'd fulfil their potential everywhere else. Exactly what parents want to hear. And when the sixth years came over to us as we were mingling and asked if we had any questions, I asked them what percentage of what the teachers had said was true. They all seemed very genuine as they said it was a great school and she'd love it there.

The only fault I could find was that they were serving Nescafe up for us to drink, but I have 6 years to sort that one out.

That parents' night last night reminded me of the anxiety of Anna's primary school induction when we went along to meet these people we'd have to hand our precious baby over to.  And so, today, I went along to the induction meeting for this year's P1 intake. Every single year since 2005, I've done the talk for the Parents' Association, encouraging people to come along and get involved. Today it was time to hand over to someone who will be here next year but I snuck in to see the proceedings just one last time.

At the end, the deputy head teacher said that there was one more speaker, a parent who'd been at the school for seven years, who would give a brief talk about what life at the school was all about. It took me a minute or so to realise she was talking about me. So, up I got and gave pretty much the spiel I've given for 6 years, about how Anna on her first morning was nervous in her line and how her teacher had very gently and kindly come out and taken her hand and how I knew from that moment that everything would be fine.

And how it was - how you can just phone up the school with a concern and they'll always listen and do what they can to help.

How being around in the school as a parent helper gives you an insight that tells you what a calm, happy, industrious environment it is and how that inspires you to want to give something back. I reckon in the 7 years, we must have raised not far off £50,000 for school funds, which can't be bad.

I joked with the deputy head teacher afterwards that she'd taken a big risk - Anna was leaving and I could have said anything - but she knew I was a pretty safe bet.

I shall probably spend much of the next two weeks in a generally ditsy, teary state. Some of you might not notice the difference, I know. I am so going to miss being part of that school community. And parents don't really matter so much at high school, do they?

I know we'll still matter at home. At least I hope we will. Everyone says you lose your kids when they go to high school, but surely we must have our uses as chauffeur, provider of money, shoulder to cry on, that kind of thing........?

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