Friendship V Highschool
Updated: Dec 2, 2017
Do you see this face? We love this face. This is Loch. Being Loch. Effortlessly.
We did not see a lot of this face over the summer.
Ever made one of those big parent decisions... then started to wonder if you'd got it really wrong? Uhuh. Me too.
Because we'd moved so close to the highschool Rad was already attending, there was no question where Loch was destined to go after leaving his lovely village primary school this summer. That's not to say we would've sent him there regardless of the school's performance, we wouldn't have. And in fairness we did do the 'balanced adult' thing and look around alternatives, namely the high school all, yes all, Locho's primary school friends were headed. But the truth was, when it came to calibre, there just didn't seem to be much in it. I remember the whole selection process vividly, state your first high-school preference here... your second preference here...
And we did. We, as in Jim and me, not Loch.
Loch was unhappy from the off. He wouldn't know anybody, understood. But he's a master at friendship. All he'd need was a football. And his big brother was there! But not his best friend, Loz. His other half since their first days together at playgroup, before they were talking properly or had stopped putting peas up their noses.
Loch grieved this summer. It was always there, just under the surface, waiting to undo him. If I had to give it a name, I'd have called it something like heartbreak.
So we did our best to cajole, and reason and enthuse. I'd started high school a complete loner too! I still have the same great friends now, Loch! We were putting down roots in this home we're making for ourselves. This is where we live. It'd be great once all his new pals started coming around. And despite breaking out into a cold sweat the first week as he wandered up into a hall full of strangers' children each morning (my cold sweats, not Loch's), to our relief (and a huge credit to the school itself) he settled in very very well. He made some great pals, nice kids with nice parents. He could roll out of bed at 8am every day and still trundle casually up to school. He was home by 3.20pm. School was practically a part-time gig!
But there was still something wrong. He missed Loz. He missed them all, but he missed Loz terribly. Catching up with him was starting to necessitate organisation and phonecalls between parents and car journeys. It wasn't the same easy laid back friendship, it was concerted effort. Hanging around the village Loz lives and Loch no longer went to school in, hoping Loz's schedule would patch in with his own. And when something happened, to scupper Loch's plans to catch up with his pal, it was upsetting for him. Crushingly disappointing, and completely out of his, and my, control. All the village kids he'd gone to primary school with were all on the same groove, the same school bus! While Loch seemed to be drifting off somewhere else. We hadn't anticipated him feeling so low about it.
I never told Loch, that I'd already wobbled on my first preference, second preference decision. Or how way back in April I'd asked about changing our selection and had accepted a place for him, 29th, on the waiting list. He didn't know we were trying to get him in to his preferred school before the first term started. Or how we'd tracked his progress with the county's school admissions office every few weeks as the numbers in front of him whittled down. But it wasn't to be. September thundered towards us. The day before he was due to start School A, he was still seventh on the waiting list for School B.
And then he got through the rough bit of not knowing anyone, and started to like School A.
We continued to play down the merits of School B. Going there would mean waking up an hour earlier to rejig the school run. Driving him 25 minutes out of the way every morning before dropping Jesse off at his nursery, having three children in three bloody schools, new uniform, starting all over, wasting all that hard work making new friends at his brother's school. And what of his brother? How would Rad feel about them going to separate schools? My two little boys, disconnected? These were the points batted around the house whenever it came up.
But every night, without exception, regardless of the fun Loch had had or lesson he'd enjoyed, he still asked to switch schools.
A year ago, I would never have been swayed about something like this. I know Loch will do well wherever he is. He's a super kid. He's charismatic, loving, decent, and exceptionally funny. He'll be just swell. And besides, choosing schools is a decision for the parents isn't it? Adults who have to take into account practicalities, and league tables? Maybe. Maybe not.
The thing is, life is dreadfully, exquisitely short. And time is precious.
As a family, we had a hard lesson on this just twelve months ago.
When someone you love and need to have in your life every day suddenly... isn't, because of this or that or cancer... it hits home. Life is very fragile. Things happen. We're all busy making plans we might never see out. It's not gloomy, or depressing, it's just a big old fact. I don't know how long I'll have the people I love in my life for. But for as long as I do, I'd like to see them happy.
Which is why when a place came up for Loch last month, Jim and I decided the choice had to be his. And to my delight, surprise and utter pride, Loch was very pragmatic about it. He was only 70% sure he should go. So he weighed it all up, and switched schools of course, starting all over again in a bigger school with older kids and doors he couldn't figure out how to get through for the first couple of weeks. But it was his decision and so far, he hasn't looked back.
Twice over Loch has had to meet new people and forge new relationships, and I know that in itself will stand him in good stead on the path ahead. He's back to being himself, happy, jokey Locho. Only now, he's got great friends in two towns to stick peas up his nose with.