A Year of Last

Youngest children thrive in an environment of benign neglect. They have to, it’s all they have available to them.

Eldest children enjoy a parent’s undivided attention, they are the prototype of our parenting and as such we relish every moment, recognising milestones, throwing ourselves into this brave new world.

When my eldest started school, I was sooo into it (I even wore lipstick on the first day). I was at reading groups, supervising maths activities, on the P&C, hell by a series of defaults I even ended up President of the P&C! Every event I was there, camera in hand, recording every single moment.

By the time the youngest was in Grade 1 I was back at work. I juggled and managed to make it to most of the prescribed activities but when the athletics was rained out I couldn’t arrange to take another day off, when the band playing at assembly clashed with work meetings I couldn’t wangle it to be there. There were other faces in the crowd, sometimes Dad, sometimes Nana, sometimes Aunt Dorothy but sometimes not me.

Yesterday was our last Primary School athletics carnival. Next year Princess Child will progress to High School and I won’t be wanted at the carnival.

Standing in the sun, watching the Year 6 kids, they all looked so grown up. They are tall, growing into their features, cheering for each other, laughing at private jokes, hugging each other in victory and handing tissues to the sobbing losers – hormones suck girls – I know you don’t understand why you are crying – I know it’s not really about the sore knees and ankles or the fact you lost – but it will be many years before you realise just what made you cry on the warm autumn day back in 2012.

I remember our first athletics carnival, when we were still keen, manning the fundraising BBQ. I had a three-year-old clinging to my legs and a queue of hungry people. There was chaos and laughter as we got the folks fed. We lost any desire to ever eat another sausage again. We raised money and were part of the school community.

Today it’s a different school, we don’t help out much, too tied up with work. Thethree-year-old is a lanky 12-year-old running the anchor leg in the relay. Holding her team’s lead, to cross the finish line in first place, the crowd goes wild (well OK her Mum and Dad go wild). Hastings doesn’t usually win the relay, the girls leap into each others arms, jumping up and down,  faces alight with excitement. I’m glad I’m there (and I even remember to get a photo).

We are heading into the final stretch of a year of lasts. The swimming carnival, the cross country, the athletics carnival. The Mother’s Day assembly. The Father’s Day assembly. We are ticking off each one marking the end of an era. Our last year in Primary School.

There will no more standing at the school gates catching up with other parents on my day off, waiting for excited children to come running out. Instead when we do venture to high school we won’t leave the car, our self-sufficient teens will plonk in the vehicle with monosyllabic answers to our enthusiastic questioning about their day.

There will be no more calls to man the reading groups.

It won’t be cool to have your parents come to too many things, we’ll manage to bully our way into a few, but it won’t be same.

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11 thoughts on “A Year of Last

  1. You remind me to stop wishing the days away. I have difficult days with my two little ones, but I should remember that these are the last days of them being 2 and 4. Because before I know it I will be lamenting the last days of year 6 like you.

    • It’s so hard not to wish the days away when they are little and demanding, then all of a sudden you turn around and wonder where on this tall, skinny, grown-up looking person came from!

  2. In my case grandchildren have replaced the children, but I remember all too well trying to juggle motherhood with work. I don’t envy you, Janine, because I know how stressful the demands are and the feelings of inadequacies of having so many balls to juggle at once. My only salvation as far as sports went, was a neighborhood guy that made sure the kids made to their little league practices, and sometimes even the games without their parents. Since I was a single parent, it was not always possible to fit everything in as scheduled. Those days flew by, now that I look back on them. But at the time, I thought I would lose my mind trying to keep everyone happy and give everything/everyone the attention they needed. Hats off to you for keeping up with it all! :) Those teens years top them all, don’t they? Not to worry, once the kids become adults and realize all of the crap you’ve put up with all of these years, you will once again become their number one … well until they meet that someone special … then you might be on the bottom of the totem pole again. Be warned. LOL. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

    • I so admire you Marcy, single parenting would have to be the toughest job in the world. I’ve never been a single mum but my husband and I have had long periods apart, when he was in the navy and later when he stayed in Brisbane to finish renovating our house while the girls and I moved to Port. Trying to juggle on you own is a bloody nightmare, how you do it when there is no end in sight and you are solely responsible for the income I don’t know! Thanks for the heads up about when they start finding boyfriends, I don’t think I’m ready for that, I’ll be emailing you for advice!! (Although it should provide good fodder for the blog).

  3. How does the saying go? The days are long but the years are short? I’m am in almost exactly the same place as you are. Cal heads to 7th grade and it’s a different world. We’re told he’ll stop talking to us. ;) As much delight as I take in watching him grow up, oh, it’s bittersweet. I hear ya, Momma.

    • “The days are long but the years are short” I love that it’s so true. I’ve found you have to work a lot harder to get them to talk to you (but not in an obvious way). It’s no longer excited young kids, talking at you non-stop as soon as they see you. Instead you have to make opportunities to be alone together, ask tactful questions and draw it out of them much more. A social worker I know once said she worked with kids from every sort of background, and the big factor in them going off the rails had been a breakdown in communication. So we struggle on through hoping they trust us enough to tell us if there is a big problem and just trying to be available.

  4. hello janine, i’m with you. my oldest is going to high school in the fall. my youngest is 10. we just have to enjoy the days, one by one. joy to you this weekend!

  5. Pingback: Photo A Day May – The Results | Shambolic Living

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