Seems just yesterday that we opened the page on the chapter of Andrew’s first year of boarding school. I smiled as I read of his excitement and our trepidation in the blog post, ‘Ready to spread his Wings’.
Excited he was, as he settled into his new sleeping space, desk and conversed with room mates.
Although I had a brave front, I did harbour lots of fears for Andrew and the adjustments he would have to make. As part of the pioneering cohort of Year 7’s moving to High School in Queensland, I worried about him being so young. Eleven for the first half of the year to be exact.
Of course my fears were unfounded. He has had a great year and while we’ve had a few little bumps nothing has been unsurmountable.
Like most things in life, it has been about partnerships, conversations and working as a team to achieve the best outcomes.
So what have been the key things for us, that have meant the year has been mostly smiles, lots of growing and leaps of learning …..
- Having some connections. Andrew had completed primary school through Distance Education and was fortunate that a few of his classmates had gone onto the same school. While they don’t have to be bosom buddies every day, it’s still nice to start the year with familiar faces. Connections built through ICPA Sports Camp and the initial Induction at the end of last year were also instrumental in meaning the big pool of fish wasn’t completely overwhelming.
2. Phone calls. I could set my watch by them! Every night he calls. Not much to say, mostly one worded answers but if regularity is any indication, they’re important. He is always the caller and if I don’t answer he will keep trying our numbers until someone does pick up. Funnily enough, it’s almost impossible for us to ring as he never answers!!
He relishes hearing snippets of information about life at home. The weather, what’s happening with cattle, how the little kids are going with school and when will we be visiting next.
3. Week-ends. While he has played some week-end sport this year, we’ve made a big effort to bring him home from school whenever feasible. Of course we are blessed to live relatively close compared to some of my Western friends. It’s so good for all of us. Naturally there’s sibling rivalry, pecking orders to be reestablished and jostling for who’s turn it is to do what chore. This is far outweighed by the benefits of reconnecting with habits of home. Good food, your own bed and a complete change of pace.
4. Outings. On a few occasions we have been in town and it has been logistically impossible for Andrew to come home. He really appreciates a drop in and a cuddle.
As you may have guessed, boarders love eating out!
Of course, if we haven’t had time to go on leave, calling in and dropping off a packet of chips never goes astray with a boarder either.
Andrew has successfully managed all the things I worried about, like laundry, packing his own port, organising his school work, being in the right place at the right time, signing up for extra co-cirricular programs, phone credits, catching buses, managing money, going shopping and making friends. He hasn’t had to do it alone and just as they say it takes a village to raise a child, I feel like we’ve conversed as a team (parents, teachers and boarding staff) to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible.
And now it’s only 2 more sleeps until his first year is complete and we have him under our wings for two months of Summer holidays.
There will be lots of mustering, some fencing, some family bonding, Christmas celebrations and hopefully lots of wet days to reflect, renew and replenish for the year ahead.