Dawn Savidge relives that first day at a new school and the challenges for mum and son alike
Today was a big day for us all: transition day for my eldest child. Slowly and with some trepidation he got dressed. I tried to hide my feelings about losing my eldest child to High School. I drove along the short journey that my son would soon walk every day. It seemed like every danger that ever existed on the roads presented itself to me that morning! Traffic lights had stopped working. The busy main road had more fast drivers on it today. Kids were running across the road unaided by any lollipop people or pedestrian lights, as they were broken. As we pulled up outside the local High School, both of us were a bag of nerves.
‘Will you walk in with me Mummy?’ my son pleaded. I turned to look at him, a huge lump in my throat. Everything inside of me wanted to shout, ”YES and I’ll also defend you against anyone who might make fun of you because of what you are wearing/carrying/saying.” But instead, I found myself running against all my natural motherly instincts and saying “no”. I reassured him that things would be okay, that even though this felt like a scary step, things would work out and he would have a wonderful day. And then I watched as he opened the car door, walked across the road and through the school gate. When I could see him no longer, I burst into tears, unable to drive away through the sobs, snot and waterfalls streaming from my eyes. How would he survive without me? What if something awful happened to him and I wasn’t there to help? What was I going to do all day without him? I finally managed to stop crying enough to see and made my way home.
When I picked him up that evening, my heart with still racked with guilt at having to send him to school and sadness at losing my first-born to a place where I had heard that they change into monstrous teenagers. He ran to the car swinging his bag around and beaming. Guess what? He had had a wonderful day.
Isn’t that so often the case? As parents we want to be able to wrap our children in cotton wool. The world can be a dangerous place and we have a natural instinct to protect. But can you imagine the state that our children and society would be in if we did not let our children experience new things on their own, try, fail, and succeed, without us being there every minute of every day. Growing up also means letting go as a parent.
If I had the chance to talk to my younger parenting self about transitions and moving schools, I would tell me to ease up on me a little! As parents we often imagine the worst so that we can cope with it when it does eventually happen. Or maybe we are just used to the world being a negative place.
I would tell me that letting go does not mean that I will lose something, but that I will gain so much more. The depth of relationship that we have now as a young adult and a parent is so much richer than a Year 6/7 child. Letting him go and walk the school ground on his own for the first time, getting into a fist fight, forgetting his homework, being picked to captain the school football team, winning awards, and getting a detention, were all grounds for great conversations that we could have. Conversations that would deepen his faith, and mine. Conversations that would allow us to open up the Bible and see what God says about certain situations that he faced. And conversations that would bring us closer together in understanding about each other.
Being a good parent is not about being a perfect one. In fact, there are no perfect parents, we all make mistakes. Being a good parent is about listening to your child, learning, and growing together - as well as doing all the usual things like making sure they are safe, loved, fed, and watered of course. So do not look back and beat yourself up because the younger ’you’ made mistakes. We are all on a journey.