Musings of a high school mom

If you’re a friend or a regular reader you’ll know that this year Ewan started high school. I posted a long while back about choosing a high school. In the end, we chose the all boys traditional public school. 

It’s only been a few weeks since the new school year started. We’ve dealt with so many changes in such a short time! Looking back, I can’t really believe that it’s only been just over a month. It feels like we’ve been doing this forever. 

The first few days were rough. The older grades asserted their seniority, which was a little intimidating for the total newbie. Fortunately there wasn’t any of the horror initiation I’ve heard about! For the most part, I think it was good natured and just the older boys showing the formies where they fit in this new society that they’re part of. Ewan took it well, with his usual good humour. All the same, he was relieved when it was over and they were left alone to blend in with the rest of the school. 

The bigger shock to his system was having to deal with making new friends in a completely strange environment. He was a well liked kid in his nurturing primary school and he’d made some very close friends in the time he was there. Finding new friends in a new school, where everyone was a stranger took some time. I underestimated how hard it could be for a 13 year old. You know how little kids who’ve just met will just wander off to the jungle gyms and an hour later be best friends for life? Well I had to remember that it gets more complicated when you’re older. He had to find his crowd. Boys that he could relate to.

For the first week or two, he was pretty sure that no such kids existed in his new school. I’m so grateful that his old primary school friends have been around on weekends for hangouts and a sleepover or two during this time. Thankfully, he’s now found a gang! He’s  found his people and he’s starting to feel comfortable in his space.

All in all, it’s been a positive experience. 

I am still finding the communication lines a bit confusing but I guess I’m getting used to where to find out what and I’m also learning to rely on Ewan for info.

It’s strange not to really know who teaches him what. We’re yet to formally meet any teachers. We’ve only listened to them talk at a the parent’s info evening. 

I appreciate the strong sense of respect and discipline the school is instilling in the boys. 

And brotherhood… it’s only been weeks and I sense that Ewan already feels a strong bond to the school. 

They each have a matric mentor and it’s awesome to see the older boys taking the younger ones under their wings. Yesterday, the formies had a braai with their matric mentors and I was really happy to see them actually interacting with the older boys when I arrived to fetch him. And goodbyes were said with fist pumps, elbow bumps and everything, lol!

I love the regular visits and news they get from old boys who have done well. From Rhodes scholars to Olympian medal winners & provincial sportsmen. I really do think it inspires the boys to be all they can be. 

I enjoy our car trips to school. We’ve solved the world’s problems, had silly laughs and driven in companionable silence (and I’ve given a few lectures – I am the mom of course!)

I’ve learned that buttons don’t get sewn on. They pierce holes in their blazers and anchor the buttons in place! Ingenious, I tell you. 

So far, so good, but bring on the holidays!

And for our next trick, we need to figure out where to send Claire!!!

P.S. This post was read and vetted by the subject before I hit “publish”. 

The only constant thing

It’s been a big, hard week for my big kid! So much change, so much to get used to! While I have no doubt that in time, we will all find our way in this new teenage world we’re navigating, it doesn’t make the right now the easiest place to be. 


Which got me thinking about all the times in life I’ve been through the same thing. There were those five schools I went to. Oh and the move from Jozi to Witbank and then a move back to the big city a few years later – which just happened to tie in with the year I went to highschool! 

Then there was me joining the working world. Lordy, that was big! I distinctly remember not being sure whether I was allowed to leave my desk to go to the loo without permission from my boss – and her laughing at me when I did finally get desperate enough to ask! And then my second job – okay, admittedly it  made somewhat easier by having a bit of prior work experience and the fact that I made an awesome friend on that first day. Who just happened to be the guy I married a few years later. 

There was moving out of my parent’s home into a flat share and then later into my own place. And after that, sharing a home with Nick. Learning to budget for monthly groceries, deal with house maintenancy stuff. Hey – when Nick first did a grocery shop, he bought the most enormous tin of instant coffee and bag of cake flour. The flour grew weevils way before it got turned into something edible and we had bad coffee for months and months! 

There have been a bunch of work changes since those first two jobs. Most recently it was when the comfy little company I worked for got bought out by a big corporate. I knew it was a good move with great opportunity but my word – those first few days in the new place! I remember feeling so strange and uncomfortable as I walked the passages. The hundreds of unfamiliar faces. The uncertainty of how any of the processes worked, even something as simple as ordering a meal in the canteen. Now, just over a year later, I walk down the same corridors and cheerily say “Hi” to colleagues and friends (assuming I’ve had  my two cups of coffee by then)!

The thing is, I’m a reasonably confident girl when I’m comfortable in my space. I can be chatty and friendly and even a bit funny. But put me in a space which is new and intimidating and I’m suddenly quite shy and reserved. I’ve only recently tried to learn the art of “fake it till you make it”.

Probably the biggest change of all was becoming a parent. The belly and all the physical preparation for a change which was so much more complex than just adding a new person to our household. And then the rapid and constant change that parenthood brings! I remember remarking, in frustration, that no sooner have I gotten the hang of one stage of mommying my baby when they would suddenly have a growth spurt and some new challenge would present itself – growing teeth or spitting out apple purée or peeing behind the couch. 

So yep, this change that’s happening now, this big new world – it’s hard! But it’s the way life works – he’ll find his feet. And just when he thinks he’s got it all waxed… 

H. 

Matric results day: My 2 cents worth

Congrats to all of the 2016 matriculants who got happy results today!

When I was in highschool there used to be a TV ad about a bunch of kids getting their matric results by hanging out in front of a newspaper office at dawn in a beat up old volksie and cracking open bottles of coke (?) in celebration. I seem to think it was coke? I was always quite disappointed that I didn’t do that. I wonder if anyone did?

My dad drove me to my school that day. I’d already landed my first insurance job by then, so I’d taken the morning off to collect my results. The receptionist wouldn’t hand them to me and I had to go into the principal’s office to request them. I was terrified. But it was only because they couldn’t trace one of the text books I was supposed to have handed in.

I passed. My dad dropped me at work. I took the bus home. I’m sure we celebrated but I can’t remember those details. Oh and my mom insisted I sort out the text book misunderstanding with the school myself because I was officially all grown up now. Adulting 101.

The thing that I’m reminded of today is how fortunate I was to fall straight into a job. I often have wished that I had taken more time off, but in retrospect it was probably a good thing that I grabbed that first job. I’d been for the interview while I was still writing finals. When they asked if I would be happy to start mid-December, I said yes. I was willing and eager and took the gap given. Maybe if I’d been less eager to start, they would have been less eager to employ me? That first job sucked in so many ways, but it led to my second job. The one where I met Nick and created a real grown up life.

I was lucky. Not everyone landed a decent job with only a matric back then and it’s even less likely to happen now!

If studying further is not in your immediate plans or beyond your budget then take whatever else you can find! Seriously guys, just do SOMETHING. It all counts toward a bigger picture and you never know where a seemingly menial job may lead you. Who you may meet and impress along the way. Even unpaid volunteer work or interning can lead you to places you can’t imagine. And work hard at whatever it is you find to do. You’re never too good for the job you’re in!

You need to know that Grade 12 is not the end of your education. It’s the end of a phase, just like pre-primary and primary school, but it’s not the end! It will continue. And it absolutely must continue if you want to keep moving forward. Take any opportunity that you may stumble upon to improve yourself. I’ve been fortunate to work for companies that have paid for me to study and I’ve completed a couple of insurance related courses which have helped me in each subsequent job I’ve applied for. I’ve now reached a point where not having a degree has proved to be a huge barrier in my career aspirations so at the ripe old age of 39, I’m one third of the way to getting a Bachelor Degree.

Oh and you may not know what you really want to do for the next five, ten, twenty years of your adult life. I certainly didn’t. I’ve had a thousand career ideas and it’s only in the last few years that I have gained a little clarity. Apparently I’m not a freak and it’s quite common… So while you’re figuring it all out, do whatever comes your way and do it to the best of your ability.

I could ramble preach chat for hours on this subject because it’s really close to my heart, but I won’t.

Good luck kids!

Love

Aunty Hilly 🙂

Adulting… Or doing the real thing?

I keep hearing people talking about adulting… I wore heels today – #adulting, I submitted my tax return – #adulting

I get it – really I do… For the longest time, after I had my own home, was married and even had a child, I would sometimes have some sort of out of body experience where I would catch myself in the middle of an adult activity, like a monthly grocery shopping excursion and be like “Really, is this my life now? This is far too grownup a chore for me to have to do!” It felt distinctly like I was playing a game of Adult Adult. 

I realized today, when I heard a bunch of 20 somethings talking about adulting, that I haven’t had that out of body experience for a while now. I wonder when that feeling stopped? 

I think maybe it was when I hit my mid thirties and my kids were firmly in primary school. The feeling of playing pretend is definitely gone now. 

I have two preteens who seem to absorb pop culture (and song lyrics) by osmosis. They talk of Drake, Caspper Nyovest and Justin Bieber authoritatively, whereas I had to Google “who was that guy who filled up the dome?”  before I typed this sentence. 

At some point, grown up started feeling like natural state of being. Maybe it was when I started to page through ‘Woman and Home’ instead of ‘Cosmo’. Or when I became less embarrassed to say I listen to 702 (or now, Cliff Central) – the thing is, I’ve always liked talk radio but it used to seem like such a fuddy-duddy things to admit to. Now I actually don’t care what people think of my listening choices. Maybe it was when I started buying hair colour to disguise my greys, not because I felt like changing up my chair colour out of boredom. Maybe it was when I opened my mouth and my mom came out.

I certainly don’t dislike the idea of getting older. It’s become easier and easier to be in my skin in the last few years. Maybe that is because my skin is a little more stretched out now 🙂 

Seriously though, I’ve heard loads of women over 40 talk about how awesome things happen once they reach the big Four-oh. So I still have that to look forward to. And while I wait for 40,  I can practice my awesomeness! And practice being okay with my grey roots and laugh lines and save for Botox. 

I guess it’s a case of fake it till you make it. At some point in the last few years, I made it to real adulthood and stopped playing pretend. And whilst I’m quite accepting of my grown up status now, after a rough day sometimes I just don’t want to adult anymore! But for that, there’s wine. And because I’m a genuine adult, I don’t mind admitting I drink wine – yes Mom, I drink wine 🙂

Choosing a highschool…or letting a highschool choose us!

I thought I’d don the Mom-Blog hat for once instead of the Running-Blog sneakers and post about the big parenting thing happening for us right now…

Ewan is less than a year away from high school and I can hardly believe we are at this point in our lives! When we were choosing primary schools all those years ago, high school seemed like a very distant concern and yet I remember him starting pre-primary in 2008 like it was yesterday. We chose a lovely private school, close to home that had a Cambridge curriculum and a warm, family like feeling when we visited. 10406834_10153853475396565_1838176642647242060_n

Its been a bit of a different thing though choosing a high school. Now the end of his school career is vaguely in sight and we need to seriously consider the future. How do we end his school career in the best way to equip him for university? For adulthood?

At the moment, our options seem to be as either a highly rated private co-ed high school, in our neighbourhood or top public JHB boys school, close to our offices.

If you’re being nice, call me analytical, but honestly I am a great over-thinker. I’ve been talking to Ewan, other parents and teachers, made pro and con lists in my head and on paper, visualised possible outcomes and then thought some more. And seem to I change my mind on a daily basis about what the right choice might be.

Things sure are different to when I was a kid, I just went to the school I was zoned for. And when that didn’t seem to be the best option, my folks told the school that I wanted to attend that we were planning to move into their area, and off I went.

Nowadays, if you want to go the local public school that you’re zoned for, you stand in insane queues, overnight, to apply to get your child in. If you want to go the private school route, or get into a top public school, you get called for interviews, write exams, present CV’s. You wait for acknowledgement and juggle your options.

And then you do it all again when your next child has to make the big leap from primary school to high.

What was your criteria for choosing schools?

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