I am proud to be a parent of students returning to an independent school.
We initially chose the school because of the challenging academic program, the multitude of options available to them and, to be honest, for the sheer convenience of the kids being on the same campus as my office. But the kids were mixed about starting somewhere new, even though they were part of the decision to switch schools. (Yes, I belong to this new breed of parents who engage their kids in the process to spend loads of cash on their education….). So our first week wasn’t always easy.
Our first experience was buying the uniform. I remember holding the hands of my two nervous kids as we first entered the Ridley shop. Jacob, who was ten, didn’t share my enthusiasm for purchasing his entire uniform second-hand. He called me over behind a shelf, his eyes bulging with tears and informed me, “I will NOT wear someone else’s pants to school”. Feeling now overwhelmed myself, I was quick to snap back, “Be thankful they don’t sell used boxers.”
Very quickly, however, their enthusiasm grew at a similar rate to my anxiety – they loved their first day of school but I had to deal with what to wear and what to pack. One might assume that a uniform makes one’s life easier. But with a regular uniform, a chapel uniform and a gym uniform (the latter including two shirts, two shorts, trackpants, hoodie, zip-up sweatshirt, and jacket), it is tough to be sure. On the second day of school, as we drove to the drop-off spot, Jacob announced that we had to go home. “All the kids are wearing the other gym shirt.”
By Friday, I thought I could manage – drop-off was a success for two days in a row. But that day, I apparently missed the significance of the word “tribe” in the agenda. So when I picked up the kids, I noticed that everyone wore a brightly coloured shirt. Except mine wore their white shirts. Tribe shirts, the fourth uniform, were not sold in the shop in early September. As we walked to the car, my daughter Kathleen, who rarely utters a harsh word, stopped and looked me in the eyes and asked, “Mom, can you try a little harder next week?”
I am happy to report that we have all enjoyed this year’s week one – both kids wearing second-hand uniforms and no one frustrated that we need to try harder….