- THIS SIDE OF TOWN
And just like that, the kids are back at school and already settled into their routines.
Exciting new friendships and, no doubt, pecking orders have been established, and nerves over missing the bus have long dissolved. Although there's already been a bus drama with the inevitable 'I dare you to tap the emergency exit glass' (not my kid btw) and the subsequent window shattering then smashing, rendering the bus out of order.
There's been reconnections as former friends or teammates wind up at the same school and class members have been reshuffled (mostly due to meddling parents from what I witnessed. With the odd exception, ending up in a class without your friends is not the end of the world – it happened to me every year and many great new friendships were forged).
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On that note, the oldest has been coming home from high school each day and, holding out his timetable, has been filling me in on which classes he likes and doesn't. He's a lot more talkative at the moment - I'm loving this 13-year-old stage.
But seeing as none of my kids enjoy reading or writing, much to my dismay, and have never completed a book in their lives, apart from my NBA-obsessed oldest reading the Steven Adams autobiography, I was delighted to hear him declare that he likes English class best.
Suddenly I was all ears.
"How come? What do you like about it?" I asked.
"It's just that it's stacked," he replied.
He'd lost me.
"It means like heaps of something," piped up his little brother.
"Yeah, it's stacked with all my friends," confirmed the teen.
My heart sank.
"Wait, so all those classes you've been telling me you like or don't, that was just based on who is in them?"
"Well yeah," he replied, like it was a no-brainer.
What was I thinking – it's all about the bros, duh (and apparently how many high fives you perform between walking from the basketball courts at the bottom of the school, to class after the bell goes).
But there's hope – he has a birthday coming up and I've already ordered the Kobe Bryant book, just quietly.
As for the twins, I attended their intermediate pōwhiri knowing it would likely be one of the only times I was welcome (by them) to set foot in the school.
"NO parents walk their kids into class," stressed my daughter after I'd teased her one day that I would.
Well, the day I dropped them at school, because the bus was out of order, there certainly was a whole lot of parents flocking through the gates with their offspring.
I sat in the car across the road and watched for a minute, observing my twins who were bundles of nerves and daunted by navigating such a big school only the week before, now confidently striding through the gates, where their places were already established and each off on their own missions.
And I knew my place – it was right there in the car. But my daughter knows she's got a nostalgic mum and just before they were swallowed up through the gates into the sea of blue uniforms, she tossed an ever-so-subtle and fleeting grin back over her shoulder.
And that was enough for me.