Different everything

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 12 years since the eldest started kindergarten. And now school is drawing to an end.

We arrived late to kindy – we’d been living in New York while my ex attended Columbia University as a mature aged student.

The eldest missed a few months of alphabet and numeral stuff and struggled at first. Actually, it wasn’t just the learning that was challenging. The eldest is pretty quiet and found the social aspect quite confronting.

I didn’t think much about it – you don’t have experience to draw on with your first born.

The eldest hit many milestones early and was talking in full sentences at 18 months old. Books were an obsession from the moment he could crawl and grab them from a box we had beside the sofa.

I read Dr Seuss until I was hoarse.

Once the eldest could read, it was pretty hard to keep up the supply of books. What I later discovered was that reading became a way to escape from the stress of the real world.

Most lunchtimes were spent alone in the school library or huddling over a book in the playground. I think it was pretty lonely.

Well, not for me: I became close friends with many of the kindy mums and still catch up with them every week.

High school has been tricky too – three different schools in the search for a better fit. The last one has been wonderful, but it’s still a struggle to get the eldest out of bed and into class.

When year 10 formals rolled around, I felt a bit bereft. My Facebook feed was filled with photos of kids dressed up to the nines. My child didn’t go to any functions, there were no photos for me to share.

Fast forward to Year 12 and all the kindy mums are sad that their kids are missing out on the celebrations that come with the final year of high school. So they’ve been sharing photographs of their offspring as little ones, with a caption that says:

“For my 2021 graduate … Nothing can prepare you for your children becoming adults, you can only hope you have taught them to be true to themselves. Year 12 may not have been the celebratory year of ‘last’ school memories we had hoped for you, but your acceptance and perseverance through the unexpected and ability to work through the daily changes has told us you are ready. To all those moving beyond school, remember you don’t need luck, just give tasks 100%, always use your heart to be kind and you will make your own luck.”

And I feel a bit bereft all over again. I am incredibly proud of my child’s creativity and how he has remained strong during this difficult time. I think we’ve growth closer as a family, it’s filled my heart to see the siblings head off to skateboard and rollerblade together. That never happened pre-COVID restrictions, they were such different people. The lack of nearby friends has broken down barriers between them.

Those Facebook posts go on to say: “The Class of 2021 Parents challenge. Every day I select an image from a day in the life of my Graduate and nominate somebody to take the challenge. That’s 7 days, 7 photos, 7 nominations, 0 explanation. Today I nominate …”

I’ve been kindly nominated, however I don’t feel I can share childhood photos the way my friends have done. It’s hard to explain why – it’s not my story to tell – but the old photos don’t represent my child. Sharing them wouldn’t feel right.

The eldest has a different name now, different everything.

I’ve mainly processed those changes and made my peace with them, but sometimes I yearn to have walked a more traditional path.

I am sure I will be dazzled by where the non-traditional path takes my child when he decides where he wants to go.

In the meantime, I will follow the parenting mantra my ex always spouted: you just love ’em and love ’em and then love ’em some more.

Song of the day: John Parr “St Elmo’s Fire”

2 thoughts on “Different everything

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  1. Lovely, honest post. Thank you. Sounds like you’re both been wonderful parents. Children throw up challenges at different stages of their lives. You seem to have more than coped with it

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