THIS SIDE OF TOWN

Boys are just hopeless, aren't they?

After I'd got the school uniform and stationery organised early this year while he was away and then running it by him for approval, the boy tells me the night before his high school debut that his shirt is the wrong size.

Oh, and he needs new shoes and, by the way, are you sure this is the right hat?

The following morning I found him kitted out in the uniform - and, yes, swimming in his oversized shirt, already making breakfast, bright and early.

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After he donned his too-tight shoes (it would seem his feet have outgrown mine over the summer), we hopped in the car and headed to Whangārei Boys' High School for the powhiri.

This was amid much reassurance that I really didn't need to come to the powhiri and neither did his brother and sister for that matter.

"Look, this is probably the only time I'm going to set foot through the school gates during your high school career so just let me have this one day," I replied.

"Okay, but you guys better not embarrass me!"

Embarrass him? Never! Well, certainly not on his first day and probably actually not any more now he's older. It took a lot of grovelling and forgiveness last time I pulled one of my embarrassing stunts.

So, we pulled up around the road and out he hopped before legging it 10 metres ahead.

He soon found the bros from intermediate gathered outside the school and I waited across the street at a safe distance where I couldn't be associated with him.

A few other parents had either thoughtfully gathered or been exiled there as well.
We were welcomed into the hall by the Year 13 boys on the stage.

The 12-year-old and I had had a chat the night before at bedtime and I'd confessed to shedding a few tears behind my sunnies at his intermediate school powhiri.

"Did you?!" he asked incredulously, before making me swear not to do that the next day.

I made no promises but as I stood in the hall listening to these men sing, it occurred to me these were not boys; they had men's voices! I was releasing my 12-year-old boy to this school to be turned out a young man like the ones in front of us.

Tears began prickling at my eyes but, this time, being indoors, I couldn't hide behind sunglasses.

It was a close call but I managed to stop their descent by distracting myself, gazing around at all the photos adorning the wall and wondering if any family members featured.

We departed and I hoped he would catch the bus home all right. I'd told him to make sure he sussed it for the following morning or else I'd have to march him on to every bus that stopped and ask the driver myself.

I would've thought this enough incentive but, no, the following day, he and his friends were just as baffled about where to catch the bus.

They devised a plan over Instagram and all met up where they thought it stopped but, just as I was about to walk the twins along for their first day of school, down the drive slunk the big boys, having missed the bus.

I left them shooting hoops while I quickly got the younger ones to school, then returned and drove them in, getting stuck in traffic and rendering them late for day two of high school.

You'd think between the three of them, one might have listened at the bus meeting the day before, wouldn't you? Which brings me back to my opening line. Boys are just hopeless, but they're a lovable hopeless.

Footnote: He had a wonderful first day and, yes, it was the wrong hat and the following day he forgot his lunch. The next week he lost said hat and missed the bus again.