My most well-used body part over the last few weeks (or months if I’m really honest) has been my tear ducts and yesterday they were put to good use yet again – Joshua’s first day at Carmel School.
It was certainly more than about time he went to school as it felt like he hadn’t been for months but clearly that’s because of how much we’ve done since his last day at Rosh Pinah, it’s really only been less than 3 weeks. Also, with all the anticipation and build up he just needed to start so he could settle in quickly and we could all get used to our new routine – not sure if I’ll ever get used to this early start actually, school starts at 7.45am for heaven’s sake and his bus collects him at 7.15am! I mean do these people not know about the relaxing lifestyle I’ve been sold to lure me out here??!!
So after the obligatory new school uniform pictures (see attached of regular uniform and PE kit), the 4 of us all trooped downstairs to where the bus was due to pick up Josh right from the lobby of our building, very convenient. I really wanted to accompany him on the bus on his first day as it just felt wrong to shove him on into the unknown, even though we did visit the school together last week. Luckily there was space for me and the ‘bus mother’ agreed I could come on. A bus mother is the adult in charge of that route who makes sure the right kids get on and off at the beginning and end of each day, straps them in and makes sure nothing is forgotten. Luckily Joshua already has a friend, Emily, who is on his bus and had saved him a place and was very excited to introduce him to everyone and look after him as they are also in the same class.
Now I should just say a word about the friendship between Joshua and Emily as it really is one of those friendships that was destiny, meant to be, whatever you want to call it. For those of you who don’t already know this, 7 years ago, almost exactly in fact, I was pregnant with Joshua and Dan and I started NCT classes where we met Emily’s parents, Donna and Jon Peters for the first time. I know that many people make lifelong friends from their NCT group and the whole group often really gels together and bonds. This didn’t exactly happen with our group but Donna and I did become friendly and after Joshua and Emily were born (Emily is 2 weeks older) we got them together for playdates and birthday parties for the first 5 years or so. Then about a year ago Donna, Jon, Emily and Noah moved to Hong Kong. I didn’t really think much of it, wished them well and good luck in their new adventure and that was that – until a few months later when the Hong Kong ball started rolling for us! So destiny or just happy coincidence? Whatever it is, we have been so lucky to have people here already who have been through everything we’ve been going through and have been such an amazing support to us – maybe we have made NCT friends for life after all!
OK, back to the bus. Despite being well looked after by Emily who shouted “New boy! New boy!” to anyone else who got on the bus, I could tell Josh was a bit overwhelmed by it all and kept looking back at me for reassurance. When we arrived at school, the head was there to meet us off the bus and introduced herself to Joshua, which was really nice. Emily led the way up to their classroom and Josh did get quite teary on the way up the stairs. I knew he didn’t want me to leave him. In the classroom, Joshua was shown where to hang his bag, put his stuff, where his seat would be (next to Emily of course!) and he met his classmates, some of which he had already met in shul or just out and about since we arrived so it was good for him to see some familiar faces. I met his teacher, Mr Nico, and then knew that I really had to go and leave Josh to his day. He tried so hard to be brave but he was really upset and after lots of hugs I left him in the hands of his new friends and retreated. I was tempted to hide and watch through the window for a bit but in the end I went – and saved my own tears for the cab ride home.
The bus ride home at the end of the day was a little dramatic too! I knew I had to trust the system that Josh would get on the right bus to bring him home again, after all there are kids much younger than Joshua who do this! He was due back at 4.12pm (very precise!) so Eden and I were planning on being ready and waiting for him in plenty of time from 4pm. But at 3.45pm I got a call from Dan who had been called by the bus company to say the bus had arrived and no one was there to meet Josh off the bus! I was totally shocked and flew to the lobby where the bus was waiting and luckily he was completely fine and not cross with me – I however, was furious at being told such a wrong time and that I wasn’t there to welcome him back like I really wanted to be. I’m currently waiting for an explanation and clarification from the school – I really don’t want to come across as one of those annoying parents who are always hassling the admin staff but I think I’m justified in this case, I hope!
So despite the shaky start and dramatic end, Joshua’s summary was, “Mummy, in the end I had a nice day.” Can’t ask for more than that really. The highlights for him were meatballs and gluten-free pasta for lunch, the football goals in the playground and he can now say apple, orange and pear in Mandarin – not that Dan or I knew if he was right or wrong!!
And this morning the men of the house started their new routine of leaving together in the mornings – Dan sees Joshua onto the school bus and then gets the Parkview shuttle bus to work a few minutes later. And I can stay in my PJs!