Today is a day of rites of passage in our house.
All four of the older boys have a big day ahead. Each one takes the next step on the road to independence and autonomy.
Bertie is having his induction morning at primary school and has gone off in his uniform, chest puffed out with pride, walking tall and telling everyone with whom he comes into contact “I’m going to BIG school today!”
I hope ‘big school’ is ready for him 🙂
The next two up are making the transition to the next class, Wilf to the penultimate and Arthur to the oldest. It’s all very exciting for them.
And Humph has gone on the bus to High School.
On the bus.
On his own.
He struggled to eat his breakfast, his stomach was so knotty. He made sure his hair was brushed. He filled his water bottle (and left it behind). We stood at a safe distance and observed the empty bus-stop. As soon as other children approached, he headed off to join them. He has a rather self-consciously staccato walk; a kind of jerky, forward-leaning, head-down lope. Every so often, he turned to check that I was still there, still watching to make sure he went off safely. And gave me a little wave. And my heart constricted in my chest. He only knew one other girl there, but she was with her older siblings, so he stood alone, apart. I was so glad his two best friends had got on the bus at the stop before his: he’d be fine once he was on board.
Earlier, in the kitchen, I pulled him towards me for a hug. He stood apart from me, already having made the break in his head, I think, and leant stiffly in for a cuddle. I put my hands on his back, eased him gently towards me, breathed softly with him and told him it was okay; that it was the next step on the road to adulthood, that it was exciting, and that he’d be fine. I recognised that awful/wonderful cocktail of terror and excitement churning away at his innards. You can’t pity him because it’s exciting, you can’t be too excited for him because it’s terrifying, you just have to… observe it, name it and say it’s all as it should be.
The next hurdle of which I am aware is to get on the right bus home!
Yesterday, I sat with Wilfy’s class for an afternoon of painting tee-shirts. I had done the same with Humph and Artie that morning, so I was pretty au fait with what we were all doing.
“Is this right?” a little blonde girl at my table asked.
“I don’t think you can do it wrong,” I replied. “Whatever you choose to do will be right.”
Sitting next to me, this obviously struck a familiar chord with my Wilf. In inimitable fashion, he pronounced:
“My mum’s a Buddha!” I smiled and corrected him “A Buddhist.”
“My mum’s a Buddhist.”
A little boy at the next table piped up:
“What’s a Buddhist?”
I was, by now, feeling a little nervous about explaining this to children whose parents may not approve, although I felt sure the school would have no problem. I sat attempting to coordinate my thoughts into a coherent and appropriately simple response when the little girl next to me joined in:
“It means she’s a different faith,” she explained. “Like me.”
Little nods of comprehension all round. No further detail required.
I had just been saved by a six-year old. And experienced religious tolerance and acceptance from a group of very young children.
Isn’t that a powerful lesson?