Friday, 15 July 2011

Old friends, new friends and forgotten friends

Today Elizabeth found out what class she will be in next year. She's going to leave the safe, warm, comfortable, nurturing environment of her year one class and spread her wings into year two. I'm hoping, of course, that her year two teacher might offer a safe, warm, comfortable and nurturing environment too, but leaving the classroom she's been in for the past year will be a huge wrench for me as her teacher has been exceptional and wonderful. Lizzie has come on in leaps and bounds, hasn't she? When I think of the diffident, fearful child she was a year ago it is a truly magnificent change in her. I must write a nice letter. 

But... they've split her class up into different classes and she isn't with any of her friends. They've done it by age, and so by an accident of birth my Elizabeth is off to Red class when all her close pals are off to Blue class. Down the corridor little sister Katy will be settling in to Purple class, but that's by the way. 

I have mixed feelings about Lizzie's segregation from her buddies; there have been some incidents this year that have upset her so it might be that away from certain children she might get a chance to be herself a bit more and not be in anyone's shadow, but at six it does seem hard to split them up from the childish alliances that they've only really recently managed to make. 

I can remember my friend from infant school. Her name was Tara. I wonder what she's doing now. I imagine you know. Does her nose still run all the time? Funnily enough I remember thinking she was great and being in awe of her, but I can't remember for the life of me what she looked like. I don't have the first idea what happened to her, but I do know that our age six friendship didn't stand the test of time. By junior school it was long gone.

So maybe I should learn from this not to allow Elizabeth's friendship ups and downs to worry me too much. Today she is a bit subdued because all her mates are in Blue class and she's in Red, but she's not devastated. She likes her new teacher and is feeling all grown up as she is in Top Class now. Next year she'll move to a different school completely, so she is indeed at the moment a Big Fish in a Small Pond. Her excitement is greater than her disappointment. It's my anxiety, then, not hers. Why do I put myself through it?

You should have seen the looks on the faces of the mums outside school as they compared notes on who's little darling was in which class and with whom. (Well, alright, you did). There were tears and scowls and smiles and jumping up and down (and from the grown ups too). We all just want them to be happy. It's just that we think we know best how to make them happy, not the teachers, not the headmistress, and in my case, not you. If you'd just consult me a bit more, maybe we'd all be happier? Or maybe not. 

Lord, you know how far Lizzie has come since last year. Please rain blessings down on her wonderful teacher who has been so encouraging, perceptive and loving this year and who took me on one side this morning to ask me how Elizabeth took the news and to explain that she'd watched her at a playtime in her new group and thought that she would be OK as she seemed happy and was mixing well. Lord, be close to my little girl and help her to know that she is so beautiful, so clever, so bright, so vivid, so interesting, unique. Very, totally, completely unique (ha ha). 

Thankyou for her brain and her vivacity and her curiosity. Help her to grow more and more in confidence in her own abilities and also in her own attractiveness. Help her to see that she is worth knowing. Help her to shake off some of the inevitable cruel comments that have wounded her. Let your flame burn in her so brightly that she lights up the room with all that she is. Help me to encourage her and not undermine her. Help me to rein in my critical nature and let her blossom, even if it does mean a lot of clearing up afterwards. 

Father, as we go into the school holidays, give us all peace and anticipation of the new school year, not dread. As Katy leaves nursery in a few days, help her to look forward to being at Big School and not fear it. Give Lizzie kindness and tenderness as she talks about school with her little sister and, please, Lord Jesus, in your mercy let Lizzie play with Kate once or twice at playtime because Katy is counting on it so much. 

And me. Lord, you know how far I've come this year in my battle with my inferiority complex in the gaggle of gorgeous mums at the school gates. I am so much more relaxed (though I do still a) feel more comfortable in sunglasses and b) try to arrive just as the children are coming out and dash off as soon as I've grabbed Lizzie). Thankyou for some lovely friendly people that I've met, and one friendship from twenty years ago that has been rekindled because of the school run. As I prepare to meet a whole host of new mums as Katy starts school, Lord, again lift me up so that I can rise to the occasion and not run away and hide. 

Don't let my girls be lonely, Lord. Show them how to be a good friend so that they might make good friends. 

You are the best friend anyone could have. Show us all how to be more like you. 

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