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.