My 11 year old daughter went on camp last week. There was tears, anguish and anxiety in the days leading up to camp-sleepless nights and a tearful farewell at the bus stop when we said goodbye. The irony is that my daughter was fine, the tears and stress were all mine! I wonder if any of our parents can relate to these feelings as we have said varying goodbyes to our children over the past few weeks and entrusted them into the care of others, whether it be at School, camp or sporting activities. Some of our students will be excitedly awaiting seeing the acclaimed production “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in the months ahead but I had to laugh to myself when I read an advertising blurb that said “Harry Potter defeated Voldemort but is totally unprepared for the greatest challenge and adventure of all time-parenthood!” If the greatest wizard of all time is so challenged by parenting what hope do us mere Muggles have?
Whilst parenting is one of the greatest joys of life, it is no doubt a challenge and one which our society actually does little to prepare us for. What if Schools or Universities ran classes like Fatherhood 101 or Be the Best Mother you can be? This sounds good in theory but is unlikely. Therefore as parents we tend to learn on the job so to speak and often make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and from time to time we may err on being too strict, too lenient, too giving.
I certainly felt my failures when I said goodbye to my daughter as she went on camp. Why was I so upset and perhaps fearful? Was it I was scared she would be injured or homesick? Possibly but I think part of it was my own acceptance that my daughter was growing up, was becoming mature and independent and perhaps didn’t need me as much anymore. This is one of the great challenges of parenting-knowing when to let go just a little and take a step back so our children can step forward.
It was wonderful to connect with so many parents from our School community at the recent Cocktail Party. The partnership between School and parents is essential to the growth, development and learning of our young people. It comes with great privilege to be entrusted with the learning of young people, but also great responsibility. Thanks for sharing your child’s journey with our wonderful staff and School.
Dr Steven Middleton