Yup, no blog for six weeks. It seems that my life is all about spinning plates, and when too many of them require my attention at once, the blog one wobbles sadly to the ground…
I’ve had six weeks of non-stop freelance work (I usually achieve a sort of work/life balance by not getting enough work) – I got drawn into the Mini Holland plans for the borough, or rather the local London Cycling Campaign response to them – leading a women’s group at church has been both energising and time-consuming – and this week, when I was packing for New Wine and trying to see off a cold, we Year 6 parents also celebrated the last days of the Redster’s primary school with an emotional intensity that you have to be Mediterranean to pull off properly. Which I’m not, so I came down with a monster chesty cough instead. (I’m now confined to bed instead of driving us down to New Wine and we will be a whole day late.)
Every year the children in Year 6 have a leavers’ ceremony led by the vicar of the church attached to our C of E primary school. It’s a lovely event – each child shares a favourite memory (edited for maximum humour by their teacher, a comic genius), there are hymns, a short message from the vicar, Bibles are presented, and some of the children perform songs or play an instrument. The Redster’s talented friend played ‘Leaving Hogwarts’ on the piano, for instance (and the Redster played beautifully as well, I can’t help mentioning).
The parents then got up – on the pretext of having a group photo – and before any of the kids knew what was happening, there was a blast from the stereo and we all started singing. We’d been secretly rehearsing a song to the tune of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams – doctored somewhat as a send-off:
Seven years you’ve been coming here
From Reception to your final year
You were tiny in the early days
Now you’ve grown, big and bold…where’s my baby gone?
Because you’re ready!
Clap your hands if you know what [our school] means to you
Because you’re ready!
Clap your hands if you think that [our school] is pretty cool…
(Etc. You get the picture.)
It was fantastic. We were all swaying and clapping, at least 30 of us, with the vicar in his black cassock leading us for all he was worth (he turned out to be quite a Gareth Malone in rehearsals). The kids jumped to their feet, screaming and clutching their faces – some were crying, and about eight of them were filming us on iPads and phones. Some boys linked arms and started dancing along. It was just magic. At the end the parents were all applauding and high fiving each other – we couldn’t quite believe we’d pulled it off, with three-part harmonies and all – and not one of the children seemed to have been embarrassed. Phew.
The end of primary school is such a strange rite of passage, for children and parents alike. I’m still bewildered by the way children grow. Who are they, this gaggle of Year 6 halflings, too small to be proper humans yet, but too big to be in the assembly hall of a tiny one-form-entry primary school? Some of the girls look about 24 years old, with bras and everything. They tower over the rest of the school. But when they model their secondary school blazers they look like they’re drowning – just as they will probably feel come September.
Yesterday was the last day, and straight after they’d broken up and desecrated each others’ shirts, the whole class joined their parents in a hired hall nearby. A couple of switched-on parents had organised this in case it rained and the traditional hanging out in the park couldn’t happen – which was amazing foresight, because that was the day it absolutely poured. The hall had a stage and the children ended by gathering and singing ‘See you again’ – a new song on me – and then they all cried and hugged each other and it got so emotional that even the Cutester had to be led away sobbing at the end.