The Last Big Push

School is almost over for the year. Two more weeks of waking up at sparrows, dragging the kids out of bed, fighting over who wants what for breakfast, fighting for breakfast to get eaten at a pace more suitable to a human than a snail, lunches to be made (not peanut butter sarmies AGAIN!!), fighting to get teeth brushed, uniforms on, hair brushed, etc etc ETC! Two weeks left of homework (lets face it, I'm as over my kids homework as they are at this point!), of extra mural activities, of the ballet run, cricket matches all the way down the hill on a Friday afternoon, of early morning traffic jams, of lunchtime traffic jams, of spending more time IN the car than actually WITH my kids. Two more weeks and its December, school holidays, sunshine, and CHRISTMAS! 

These last two weeks are already jam packed. No time to ease into the festive season! With swimming gala's, Carol Services, Market Days, Speech Days, Parents information evenings, parents end of year get-together's,  there is literally no room to breathe before now and the end. And the end this time signals the end of Junior Primary for my kids. Next year is Senior Primary - and they are back to being those proverbial little fishes in the huge pond of Big School. Life changes for them (and me) next year. I have this impending sense that it all gets more serious from here on. Big subjects are introduced at school - history, biology, science and technology, as well as the usual maths, English, Afrikaans and Zulu (I see exciting homework sessions in my future!).  Tests and assessments become more formal, and exams loom in the not too distant future. Its a lot to take in for a parent. I think I am more apprehensive than my kids!

One of the biggest changes next year (again, more frightening (read: shattering!) for us parents than for our kids), is the introduction of i pads at my son's school for Grade 4's. Each child has to have his own before the school term next year. There has been much back-and-forthing between the school and the parents, but the bottom line is - it's happening. Gulp!! The school will be going above and beyond to provide as safe and secure an environment for the introduction of this new, expensive piece of school stationary as possible, but I am still seriously dubious as to how I can expect my son not to lose / drop / misplace / stand on / damage / abuse his i pad, when I am overjoyed just to see him returning from school with TWO school shoes (with two laces - I have no idea how, but he seems to manage to lose one lace out of his school shoes at least every second week!) and a full PE kit!! I see inflated insurance costs in my future!!

Homework next year poses more challenges for us parents once again, than for our little darlings. Brushing up on maths, science and history will be child's play compared to making sure we are all as technologically up to speed as our kids! At this stage, they are already far superior with our phones and computers and i pads than we are. Now we give them their own, plus dedicated lesson time with them at school.... another cause for eye-rolling kids at mom (and dad's!) ineptness!! But just as calculators and computer lessons at school during our day was frightening for our parents, it was inevitable. We  are going to have to up the bond to buy them for our kids, and embrace this technological teaching aid. Gulp!!

Before we even get there, though, this time of year is always a sad time for saying goodbye to those who have made such a difference in our kids lives on the school front. It is even more poignant this year for us, leaving Junior Primary behind. My kids have both been blessed with outstanding Heads of Primary, ladies who have really taken the time to get to know all the kids under their care, and to use their positions to motivate and inspire. They have both enthused a culture of genuine caring and love, not only for traditional learning, but also igniting in our kids a passion for the environment, and their responsibility thereof. Both Mrs Lane (Highbury) and Mrs Cuthbertson (St. Marys) have been wonderful role models for my kids. Saying thank you and goodbye will be hard. Again, both my kids have been fortunate enough to have had outstanding class teachers - from Grade R right through to Grade 3. Each one being so different, yet all leaving my kids with their own unique take on life and the world. Being a teacher must be the most challenging, rewarding, frustrating career for any one to chose. Having friends in this profession (Ashleigh, Terryn - two of the most amazing teachers I know), I have seen how much a teacher has to give of herself in order to have successful pupils. SO I am grateful to those my kids have been fortunate enough to have been taught by during the foundation phase of their lives.

Its almost time to turn off the morning alarm, haul out the advent calendar, start my Christmas shopping and holiday preparations.  Almost. Its almost time to buy the tree from the Christmas Tree Farm in Gillits (one of my favorite family traditions!), to book tickets to the Beauty and the Beast Pantomime, to find my Carol playlists on my ipod, and to embrace the end of the year. Almost. Before we run out of steam, however, we have to take a deep breath and not lose focus. It's the Last Big Push... I'm Just Saying...