Changing Schools

Yesterday was the first day of the school year and Jasper had gone off in the car with his father to his school where he has gone since he was three years old. At three he was blonder and rounder in the face. His shorts went past his knees. His back pack was almost as big as he was. It is a Montessori school. It is by the beach. It has children speaking in hushed voices. It has teachers called by their first name. It sets no homework. He can wear his board shorts. It has no races and no tests. And yet.

The phone rings and the principle of a close (but out of area) local government school tells me she has a place for Jasper available in grade five. This morning she got an email to say someone is not returning to the school. There is a place if we want and it is okay for him to come in late. But he has gone to school.

I ring Graham and tell him. We will tell Jasper together after school.

I feel sick in the guts.

I am not good at change.

When we tell him the news he looks shocked but quickly his face changes to excitement. He is keen to be moving on. He says he has been at Montessori a long time – in fact as long as most children are in primary school – and is ready for a change. He wants to be in a team. He would like the independence of walking to and from school. He already plays cricket and football with boys that attend the school.

During the day Graham and I go to enrol in the new school and I ask to see the classroom he will be in. The school is a hundred years old. The building is limestone, no doubt quarried from the ground down the hill. In the hallway sepia toned photos of old footballers adorn the walls. The secretary leads us through the corridor, its walls covered by back packs hanging from hooks. On either side are classrooms choc-full of desks in rows. A white board up the front. Children in uniforms; blue shorts, white polo shirts. In one classroom each desk has a helium filled balloon tied to it. I see a male teacher wearing a tie.

I feel as if I am stepping back into my own childhood. This school is not dissimilar to the primary school I attended. With its jarrah boards and it large sash windows, open hoping to catch the breeze. The air is not moving today and it is still and close in the classrooms. I feel a prick of fear. A deer in the headlights kind of panic.

What if I am wrong?

This is my parenting fear. Perennial. What if I am making the wrong decision for him? Graham seems not to have all this anxiety flooding through him. I thank God we are not both the same. Some one is calm and rational. I cannot speak to anyone about Jasper leaving the school without crying. I blubber about it throughout the day.



4 Replies to “Changing Schools”

  1. Such familiar memories and here I am at the other end of my life and I am often blubbing again. I take my grandchildren to the same school that their fathers attended and memories of what has gone before flood my mind and I get a lump in my throat and tell myself not to cry. Then I attend a concert and stand next to another grandmother and we look at each other and cry out – I remember you! Our suburb is like a village and many people stay on so there is the next generation going to the school their parents attended. It is a safe feeling but is also a feeling of pride. Pride the school is still there, pride that it has grown, improved and moved with the times but still has those lovely sandstone buildings and that lovely community feel.
    Thanks for your blog Nicole – it brought back some lovely (and happy/sad) memories.


  2. I sympathise – we were given an opportunity to move our oldest to a nearby school we liked – and everybody else did, which meant there hadn’t been a place for her at first – from another nearby school where she had settled in and made friends but where the teachers spent an awful lot of time showing them videos of Snow White and stuff, at every opportunity. The move did work out – for her. I still think it was cruel to move her from the point of view of her friends at the old school, who missed her; I feel guilty about that, but, for her, we did the right thing. What I kept remembering is how I’d been kept at a Froebel School all through my primary years and, while it had been cosy and pleasant to begin with, it had become too cosy and unchallenging later – I hadn’t enjoyed being cosseted by that envirionment and I’d envied my friends who went to schools where everything wasn’t just one long creative binge. I wanted the chance to see how I would cope in the big wide scary world and whether I could keep up if given really hard work. As a parent, I wanted to protect my children from the big wide scary world, but then I remembered how I’d felt when my parents had done that to me.


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