I’m in a real ‘adulting’ mindset at the moment. I’ve had a meeting with an insurance broker, we are getting Dave’s citizenship underway, our mortgage is up for renewal so I’m in full planning mode around refinancing and I’m really consciously trying to make our house and home work for our family without falling into the trap of obsessing about ‘MORE’.
Always in parallel alongside all of that very boring grown-up, life admin, is the most important job of all – parenting.
With the 8.5 year age-gap between Ethan and Nixon, the past 4.5 years of child milestones feel like they’ve belonged somewhat solely to Nix. The heady baby days of rolling over, sitting up, his first steps, first word, first day of kindy……….they’ve been freshly imprinted in our family memory banks as they should! However, Ethan has moved from single digits into a legit teenager, now 13 and in his first year at high school. That’s a massive fucking milestone that has crept up on me and literally slapped me in the face at the year 9 parents evening I attended last week.
I was sitting in an auditorium at my old high school, (thank god for kids of Old Girls getting bumped up the ballot!), next to some friends from out west. I had just downloaded the school app (!!!), which is the most incredible thing ever, personalized with Ethan’s 6-day timetable, the contact info for all of his teachers, an absentee portal + pretty much everything Dave and I NEED to know about Ethan’s day-to-day school life, when, I looked over at my friends and said; “can you even believe we are here????”
And by believe, I meant, how is it that we have somehow bumbled/guided our collective sons for 13 years to arrive at that point where we were sitting en masse in the largest high school in the country listening to the head of mathematics describe how he planned to teach our kids some really, really complicated shit?
I’ve got no idea how Dave and I did it, raised our son to be the awesome little teen he is today. But, the fact of the matter is, he’s taken Year 9 in his stride and has settled into High School like it’s NO BIG THING.
It’s actually a huge thing and a very worthy milestone to ‘quietly’ recognize. You won’t be allowed to make a song and dance – because teenagers – so don’t even bother. But once you’ve sat down with all the other bewildered parents at an orientation evening and listened to the expectations and deliverables required of a Year 9 student, your Mum Brain will be fried, emotional and reaching for the wine crutch.
Just me then. And I’m totally ok with that.
Why is high school such a BIG step?
So, so many reasons, but these are the ones that resonate with our family;
- There’s a legit choice, a sometimes agonizing one, around which college to send your kid to. When you are making decisions that can potentially affect the educational future of your kid, the process of deciding on the in-zone school or out of zone applications, ballots, interviews, puts the decision front and centre in your kid’s mind as well as yours. They probably weren’t so invested in the choice of primary school or intermediate but as an active participant in the interview process, Ethan was aware of what was at stake and where he hoped the ballot would fall.
- Public transport may come into play. Though Ethan rode a bus to intermediate, his trip to high school is a different route. Every kid in the neighborhood lined up on the wrong side of the street on the first day of term last month! Getting home again is just as tricky, there is a large bus bay at his school, but Ethan’s bus leaves from a stop outside the gates – of his massive, massive school. If his last class of the day is on the far side of the school you bet he’s running to make sure he boards the bus so Mum or Dad won’t be forced into a last minute, hour-long round-trip retrieval!
- Managing a 6-day timetable. This has been a super hard transition for E, but we are getting there. This is where Dave and I have to step in a double check he’s ready for the day ahead before he leaves the house.
- Learning to move around the school each period and acclimate to a different teacher and classroom for each subject.
- Homework vs sport vs family expectations vs the god awful game console. Work in progress for us to be honest, but compared to 3 weeks ago things are on the up and Ethan is settling into a good after-school routine.
- Social change. Making new friends and switching up the kids he hangs with has been nothing but beneficial for E, but that’s to be expected. He’s pretty mellow in the friends’ department and just enjoys spending time with whomever he has a common interest with. His daily is heading to the gym each lunchtime and shooting hoops with whoever shows up. I can imagine that this really important time in a teenagers life can be pretty rough waters for some kids as they begin high school and have to navigate new friends and social roles.
So yeah. Ethan is Year 9, his first year of high school and simply going about his days like primary and intermediate were simply some distant dream state from which he’s just now emerged. He’s amazing, capable and confident and I’m just so proud of him.
Hoping your kids have started off the school year in their best possible way also, and if not, be their advocate, be persistent and don’t settle for nods and grunts and non-communication. Getting your kids talking and keeping them talking through the tween years is sooooo important and will help all of the Big Kid transitions and milestones still to come.
There are many by the way, don’t forget to celebrate them…………….quietly lol.