When my son was a little baby I told my parents that we wouldn’t be baptizing him or any future siblings – I thought I should tell them as previous experience taught me you couldn’t always tell what they thought about religious type things.
I remember being 10 and sent to Sunday school at the local church (which we had never visited as a family in my recollection) – my parents and brother would drop me off and then drive off to the beach for an hour or so before picking me up. You see I was attending so I could get a reference from the minister to be attached to the application for the Anglican boarding school I would attend the following year. When discussed in the family group this recollection is sometimes disputed – apparently my parents recall attending church as well ‘sometimes’ but my brother remembers nothing, he either doesn’t remember or has blocked it out (as well as the subsequent years he spent attending a similar boarding school’s chapel services). So when I was getting married and decided to do it in the grounds of my mother’s old school (then part of the grounds of the local botanical gardens) and have a celebrant perform the ceremony I thought that my parents would be totally cool with that, after all since my experience at 10 (and the subsequent six years of Church every Sunday at school) we had only as a group attended church for some C&E events (Christmas and Easter). It was only the day before when one of my bridesmaids was discussing with my Dad where we were getting married that I learned he was ‘disappointed’ that we weren’t getting married in a church. The day before the wedding!?! I’m obviously happy that he never said anything about his thoughts or told me I had to be married in a church (after all he was paying) – but at least if he had mentioned it earlier we may have had a discussion and I may have had some time to come to terms with the fact that he was ‘disappointed’ with me – the worst thing a parent can ever say to you.
(As an aside – I want to know when this feeling of shame for parental disappointment kicks in – trying it with my children doesn’t seem to work at the moment – I am hoping for any day now for nearly 7-year-old but worried overuse in advance may dampen his response when it does kick in, it’s a fine line.)
So anyway – it seems that my parents held stronger views than I previously thought on religion – so I told them as a courtesy that we wouldn’t be baptizing the grandkids.
Conversation with Dad pretty much as follows
Dad – just wanted to let you know that we won’t be baptizing your grandchildren
Well – religion is quite a personal thing and I think when they grow up they can make their own decisions about it and they might be religious or not – up to them – we’re not going to make that decision for them
That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard – Nikki! Every day of your life as a parent you make decisions on behalf of your children that have an effect on them and their lives – get a new argument
And you know what – he was right (shuddering as I write that because should he ever read this I will be the recipient of a very big ‘I told you so’ phone call). I really was an amateur parent (still am nearly seven years later) and didn’t realize the extent of the decisions we would have to make at the time – but you live and learn.
Present day – our big school decision
So one of the big decisions to make on behalf of your children when you move to a new country, city, suburb is about the school they will attend.
When we decided we would be living to the north of Durban where there were two schools we found that fitted our criteria – via limited knowledge and Internet surfing. Obviously once you live here you learn more – but you don’t always have that option / all the details in advance of your full time arrival and sometimes you just have to hope that the decision you made is the best one for your child, as many sleepless nights as it does cause in the process.
Things we knew when making our decision
– was only 5 years old
– had a small – medium size student body
– wonderful playgrounds – which after a rooftop playground and only concrete with no grass in Hong Kong looked very inviting
– an excellent sporting program – as every proudly SA school should – given the newspapers the week we were here for our ‘look see’ were covered in articles about the best school to send your ‘son’ to so he would have a chance of playing in a national sporting team. At the open day we attended there the sports master reinforced to us how many ex-SA sporting team members they had on their sports staff.
(I should at this point note that our son will likely never be in any national sporting teams as he is the most un-sporty child on earth but a school with a strong sporting program does appeal because it means he gets pushed towards some sporting things that another school may not necessarily provide and therefore participates as his parents and his OT wish him to, not necessarily his wishes (yes Dad I hear you here as well))
– provided on-site Occupational Therapist for in school time sessions
– was an older more established school
– had a much larger student body
– lesser focus on sports, more focus on academics – which would have appealed to said six-year-old if he was making the choice, but again – parents preferred / decided something else for him, we will have to see how that pans out in the next few years and if he gets back to us on this decision later in life – along the lines of my whole school career really changed when you sent me to school A rather than school B
– we didn’t do the tour so we didn’t check out the grounds, also lovely
– provided on-site Occupational Therapist for in school session times
We chose School A
Things we have found out since we moved and started schooling at A…..
– has very few international students, none in the same year as our son
– has no bus services and is parent drop off and pick up only
– the in school OT cannot give son two sessions a week as he requires, only one at this stage with the promise of two next year
– starts at 7.30am
– does not finish at the same time every day
– does not finish at the same time every day
– does not finish at the same time every day (I think that’s clear now)
– 90% + of the international / expat students in Durban attend this school so they are used to children who have come from different countries and have different needs, coming from different schooling systems and moving back out into different systems
– has a bus service from our estate to the school daily
– starts at 7.50am
– finishes at the same time every day
So for the school WE THE PARENTS chose – School A – pick up times as follows
Monday – depending on what term it is there is a different sport after school, last term it was hockey and that finished at 1.45pm. This term it is cricket and was meant to be 1.30pm pick up but they seem to always be running late – so pick up time is around 1.55pm
Tuesday – no after school sport, pick up 1pm
Wednesday – after school sport on a Wednesday is swimming, intermediate swimmers are 1-1.30pm, advanced swimmers 1.30 – 2.00pm for Grade 1. Wednesday’s pick up 1.40pm (we don’t have an advanced swimmer – Shame!)
Thursday – as with Tuesday, no after school sport – unless it is elective, group tennis lessons, swimming training etc. Not especially sporty son does not participate on Thursdays so pick up is 1pm
Friday – well – no need for a full day on Friday. Pick up 12.30pm
And this is just for one child!!!! The ‘little princess’ age 3 attends a play school close by and her drop off time is after Mr Six has gone to school but pick up is not too flexible – or perhaps, more surprisingly is the same time every day 12.15. So often you get the 12.15 pick up – can’t do anything useful between 12.15 and 1pm so end up dropping her home and then going back to pick up the other at 1pm +++. As a result I am familiar with all the current chart topping songs as are my kiddies, I really am the school bus. Someone send me one of those ghastly stick on signs…….(on second thoughts please don’t)
The variable pick up time can also present problems for mothers – like the ones when you forget it’s a Tuesday and are merrily doing something at 1.20 and realise your kid has been playing in the car park for the last 15 minutes. This is when the child gets very upset and lays down the law
‘If you are going to be late I can only suggest one thing – get here at 1pm every day and just wait for me to finish’
I can only suggest one thing – are you kidding me? He is six! Even if he has a point I will not accept or acknowledge it – it may knock me off my post as ‘Boss of the house’, which he admits I am, even though he says Daddy is sometimes ‘just to make him feel better’.
Much planning for next year underway, both children will be then in same school (A). Plan is as follows, drop off 7.30am – pick up after a raft of sport and activities and some ‘after care’ – lets say 3.30pm, or anytime up to 5pm if necessary. Sounds altogether civilized, also allowing for golf, tennis or lunches with my friends if I like – or a job if I can rustle one up from somewhere.
Guess what? School B – calls it Adventure camp (not aftercare), much more appealing to small ones. Really when will we (the parents who decided on School A in the first place) learn?
Oh well, it’s a known hazard now and on the list for next time we move countries.