Sunday, October 27, 2013

Slip n sliding to big school

Immy is on the path to starting school, except it’s not really a path, it’s a super soaped up slip n slide and she is racing all the way down squealing with laughter and happiness as she flies by. I am the one left holding the hose at the side, making sure there is enough water to make it a smooth ride, right to the end.

Last week was the first school orientation morning. The day all of the preps starting school next year come in for the morning. They do a walk to the drinking taps and the toilets and meet some teachers. The teachers ask them to write their names and draw a picture before they sit on the mat to listen to a story and sing some songs.

And the Mums, the mums are breathing deeply in the staff room, or crying in the car, or chasing another toddler on the nearby playground. And the question sometimes asked is, “How are you coping?” and the mums all say the same thing.

“I will be ok.”

Because they will.

But that little bit of me that is not ok is the part that knows how Immy will miss the strong friendship she has with one of her kinder friends. Anna and Immy adore each other’s company. Together with Sharnie, they are the ‘creche kids’ that have been together for full days of care for over three years. They have seen other kids come and go, they watch as the ‘pre-school’ kids  all get picked up early and together these three keep playing, often last to leave, they know the drill of ‘late snack’ and how the playground gets packed up at 5.30pm. They get excited when the babies start to walk and they know all the parents that come in and out of every room to collect their kids. These three are the queen bees of their own little existence.

Together they have mastered the monkey bars, saved the lives of snails and hidden in the bushes to hide from kids they don’t like. They know the best place to look through the fence to see the fire trucks go past. They have dribbled on the books and kicked over the blocks. And now that they have mastered the art of how to open a lunch box, apply your own sunscreen and write your own name, it is off to school.  

Which means their time is limited.

Three little girls, all exactly the same, but a little bit different.

School will separate them. Anna will attend another school.

Anna was not there at school orientation.

Still, when asked to draw a picture of something, Immy drew a picture of the three of them. These three little girls from totally different ethnic and cultural groups yet still so very much the same. This basic drawing says so much. I know exactly which image is which girl. I know they are all in the same dresses because as different as they all are, they still try so hard to be exactly like each other.

We will still see Anna for a play when all the schedules align, but as grown ups, we all know, it's just never the same.

So when I think about Immy being ready for next year, I don’t even really think about school, I know that part now, I know she will find her bag hook and work out the rules of the bigger playground. I know she will hate the restriction of less free play and more structured learning yet love the songs, the stories, the canteen and the excursions.

But I know most of all she will miss Anna.

And we all know, there are no brakes once you get started on that soaped up slip n slide of life.


  1. It's sad isn't it. We had the same thing, and the first year we actually did really well having regular-ish play dates to keep them together. But then we moved interstate and it all disappeared. My daughter still talks fondly of her best friend forever. They met when they were 6 months old and spent every day together for 5 years. It is sad, but I know that a break doesn't have to be forever. I recently met up again with my best friend from primary & high school. Many years on we are now living again in the same city. It will be ok Claire.

  2. Chaos had two bestest buddies in day care - they were friends from 6mo until the he and the older one left to go to different schools, and the younger remained for another year. He went to school all by himself and I have to say the first year was a bit fraught (not helped by my returning to full time work, either). He's always had friends though, and is still really tight with a boy he made friends with in Grade 1, and a couple of other kids from later on. He's in grade five now, and probably has 3-4 close friends (and at least one will be going to high school with him, so we won't have to go through that again in a year and a bit). And they'll stay in touch because they do sport together.

    Mayhem on the other hand - his two besties from daycare (they started hanging out when they were about two) went to the same school. He's always had one or the other with him since prep, and his transition to school was seamless. He also had his big bro in the playground, as well as all his big brother's mates. It will be interesting to see whether the three of them get split up when they go 'upstairs' to grade three next year.

  3. How lovely that she has already been able to form such strong friendships already. Female bonding lasts, it may not be the same but the foundation is there for a lifetime of fun.

  4. You and Immy are about to open up the next brilliant, long-lasting chapter, Claire. It's amazing how our sentimentality shifts from era to era - with heavy hearts we left our daycare friends behind many years ago and over time others in the school community become just as important. In additional to special friendships, you'll come across the occasional BRILLIANT teacher who you mourn as you pass through their class into the next. As parents and as kids, there's always something to leave behind but you learn that the next chapters are always new and exciting. All the best to your gorgeous gal, and to you too. School is so much fun. x

  5. I feel some of these same emotions with my youngest who is also on the slippery slope. He is leaving behind his friends who are going to other schools. We will be saying goodbye to the daycarers who have looked after him since he was 18 months old. He is my youngest. It is the perfect storm really.

    I have no doubt he'll love school. He's so ready. But it's just the goodbyes that getcha.

  6. My little love is also starting school next year and will be without her daycare buddy. They have been together since they were one. Makes me sad and I know it will make her sad too.

  7. Oh that is so sad. But she will be okay, she will find herself I'm sure. My little Miss is starting school next year too. Wow!


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