A little friend who lives in our street is about to embark on a very big adventure. She starts school for the very first time this week. Yesterday, she arrived at our house, all decked out in her new school uniform.
With a contagious smile, she modelled the blue and white checked dress with its crispy white collar and cuffs. Shiny black shoes, you know the ones, with two layers of velcro across the front, gleamed highly, as much today as they ever will. The perfect snow-white socks were pulled up to perfect knee height showing just a tinge of brown summer legs as she moved. On her head, as if she’s worn it forever, sat a navy sun hat with a brim so perfect and round. Her dark thick pony tail hung out of reach. Wisps of stray curls sneaked out from under the hat as if to escape, and tickled her forehead. On her back the ever so big back pack in perfectly matching colour tones, hung long to her waist. Swinging triumphantly in her hand was a flat clip-over bag which she proudly informed us was her ‘library bag’. Later we were to learn that a matching art smock was also neatly rolled up in the back pack. All new and exciting and the perfect beginnings to a new stage of a very young life.
She told us that she had to practice walking to school and when she left she did tiny laps of three neighbour’s house fronts. With the back pack bobbing and the sun hat straight she walked with an air of newly found confidence. She’s a school girl now, alive with anticipation and wonder. With pre-school well behind her and the excitement of Christmas fading she readies herself for the next adventure. The adventure of the big school yard, different kids and new ground rules.
I never fail to feel a bit misty eyed when I see tiny prep children in oversized uniforms. They look fresh, vital, nervous and trusting, so much hope and anticipation. It would be lovely to freeze the moment and have it forever. I’m sure many parents and grandparents find it hard to relinquish the protective space that has been their domain, to the influential shadow of the classroom and school yard.
Makes me think about the large responsibility teachers have. I’m not a teacher but I’d shudder at the very prospect of having to hold the emotions of a group of first time schoolers. These little people arrive with vast differences emotionally, physically and intellectually, coupled with varying expectations as they walk through the school gate. Not to mention of course, the parents, nervous, anxious, apprehensive and for some a little sad. Yes, it’s hard to hand your little person over to a big system no matter how well prepared you are or your child is. I recall hovering in the classroom doorway on my son’s first day at school, reluctant to leave. Then, tip-toeing along the side of the classroom trying to glimpse him through the windows. As it turned out, he was fine, I was the one who had a tough day!
Well, I hope our little friend enjoys the start of her educational life. All the opportunities and challenges lay ahead. But, this week she rejoices in looking like a school girl in her new uniform with the big back-pack, the shiny shoes and matching sun hat.