Trigger warning – a post about children and transitions.
Today is PyelotBoy’s last day of primary school. When I think back to me changing from elementary school to junior high, my memories are fuzzy. I know I was nervous about moving from class to class throughout the day instead of staying in one familiar classroom, but I had the comfort of nearly all of my classmates moving to the same school (the now defunct Capitol View in St. Paul, Minnesota).
Whereas for PyelotBoy, the move to secondary school seems massive. Although half of his classmates are going to the same school, they morph from 60 in their year group to 180. And unlike in the States where we have middle school or junior high, and then high school, for many here, their secondary school will be their home until university.
I only started to realize the import of finding the right secondary school as my kids got older and I’d hear the buzz on that day when secondary schools announce who gets their places each year. (The school where PyelotBoy is going had 1100 applications for 180 places.) Then it was our turn to traipse between open evenings and tutoring sessions and entrance exams. We’re pleased with the school he’ll be going to – another attached to the Church of England – but as we experience the leaving events for him at his primary school, I ponder the meaning of leaving.
I know the job of a parent is to release our children to the big and often scary world, teaching them to cope and hopefully thrive as we keep on letting them go. But it’s difficult. And the emotion can come through the individual moments, such as letting them travel to school on their own or allowing them more electronic devices. We know this is our mission, but sometimes we just want to freeze time.
Parents face these moments of their kids growing up continually. A friend on a social-media site mentioned how hard the transition to a bigger car seat was for her, for it signaled her baby growing up. For another it was when her child moved to a child-facing-front stroller. For me, I remember the strong feelings of loss when I realized that my son was hearing things at school that I had no control over. Or the poignant feelings that arise when I listen to recordings we made with the children years ago, when their voices sound so strikingly different.
So to the adage carpe diem – seize the day – I would add treasure the moments. We can’t freeze time, but we can be present, giving thanks for the gifts we receive, whether it’s our own children or grandchildren or those whom we are close to in the community.
Any pointers or stories on how you’ve handled big transitions in your life, or the life of your children?