Bittersweet Reminders

It’s Miss 10’s last term at primary school. As the husband pointed out, this is a milestone. “Her last term!” he lamented, sighing nostalgically. “Remember when she was a new entrant?” I do indeed remember her first year at primary school. She was much littler and her backpack seemed much bigger. Now she’s grown into her backpack, and the school too.

She’s made friends, some of whom will go on to the same school she’s going to next year, some of whom will move on to different schools and she may never see again. It’s a bittersweet time.

I went to school with the same kids for all of my schooling, because where I grew up, there was only one choice of school for primary, intermediate, and college. I still keep in touch with some of my school friends – there’s a bond which forms when you’ve known them from the time you were all five years old in pigtails and gigantic backpacks. Facebook is good for reminding you of that sort of thing. Some of my former peers have turned out to be amazing, inspiring people with interesting lives. Some of them I’m glad I never have to see again, in person at least. Facebook is close enough for those former acquaintances. No doubt there are some of them who feel the same way about me.

But what amazes me the most is that some of those pigtailed, big-backpacked friends I spent all of my formative years now have children of their own. I do, too. (A fact which still astonishes me sometimes.) And some of their children look and act just like their parents did! It’s mind-blowing to see photos and think, “Kid, you are the spitting image of your dad, who used to chase me around the playground and try to kiss me when we were about six years old.”

It doesn’t make me feel old, exactly, to think of my school friends with kids. I’ve never minded getting older. It’s more that with the passage of time, I am acutely aware that our lives are finite, and that these are incredibly precious times. When we’re still young enough to remember what it was like to be a kid of the same age as our own, but old enough to recognise, painful though it is, that we can’t intervene to save our children from every injustice and hurt. And the bittersweet realisation that our own parents must have felt the same way about us, when they were our age, having children the same age as our children are now.

All of this is why I eat chocolate and drink wine, by the way. Not that I ever need an excuse. But right now, I raise a glass to my fellow parents — we’re on this journey together. May we always remember what it was like to be 10 years old, in our last term at primary school, on the cusp of growing up.

Have a great week.
Katherine Granich

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