The other day at breakfast Grace turned to me and said, you know mum, so and so is my friend and I really like her, but I don't like it when she is bossy. I am so proud of her that I could burst. That my almost six year old can separate out how she feels about another kid in general and some other stuff that has been pretty hard for her at times.** She is so tall, this girl of mine, as tall as many seven year olds, but she is the youngest kid in her class. And sometimes I think people expect her to act as though she is seven, not nearly six. Even me. I've had to pull myself up on that very thing over the holidays.
Weekend before last, some stuff went down around here. Not something that we were directly involved in but somehow I was drawn into the fray. Uncomfortably so. When I reflected on it later, I was surprised at the depth of my feelings, some of them quite angry and judgmental. I think I pretended (with a resulting biliary colic attack), that it was all OK but in the end I was quite cross with myself. Conflict is inevitable but I need to learn how to remain calm, to be graceful and not allow myself to be drawn into behavior that doesn't improve the situation. It has all been sorted but as I think of this event and those with others in the past, I am convinced more than ever, that in any conflict there is much to be gained from allowing ourselves, no, compelling ourselves to look beyond the black and white. To look beyond ourselves. If, as adults, we allow ourselves to slip into a psychodrama where one person or party is totally right and one totally wrong, then we ignore the complexity of the situation. We miss the shades of grey, we miss nuance. Each of us is probably a little bit right and a little bit wrong. And caught up in our own histories and feelings, so we might miss what might have caused the situation to build in the first place. Conflict is inevitably difficult, it's not something that people are good at. Myself included. Luckily in this instance (unlike some in the past) there has been enough goodwill all around, the bubble has popped and we are all moving on. A little cautiously maybe, but with relationships preserved. And we will probably do better next time. Because, despite the initial discomfort, resolving conflict is worth the effort it takes. And sets a good example for the children.
So I can't say that the school year has gotten off to a truly great start. Grace has been happy to go back to school and apart from catching a mystery bug at the end of last week, seems to have been enjoying herself. However after the excitement of the prep year, the realities of life in a small underfunded (aren't they all) state school are setting in again. There's a lot to love about our school, but in my mind there is just so much to do that it seems overwhelming. I worry that there aren't enough girls at the school. Last year the numbers of boys and girls in prep started out more or less equal but all the new children in her class are boys. It's equal in the prep year below, but in the years above the boys far outnumber the girls. So now her class is about one third girls. Is there some factor that makes parents think a school not OK for girls? - if you have thoughts on this subject, I am really interested to hear.
The school is in an area that is gentrifying and the school population is diverse. As you would expect in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. I find myself pondering how you have a school community that is truly inclusive and welcoming for everyone. How to make it appealing and let's face it, competitive against the popular/trendy state schools in the area. Part our school's charm is that is small, but more students would mean more funding and more parents to help. So anyway, I have basically ditched one of my extra curricular web activities this year (with a smidge of guilt but there is a limit to what I can do) and have resolved to become more involved with the school. The only way I can think of not to be anxious about all these things is to be a bigger part of it all.
* I was going to title this post "oh no, I've said too much, I haven't said enough" from the same song. But a comment by Suse over on the Facebook when I posted this clip just on its own there made me think this might be a better title. I love this clip - look at audience, just awesome. Obviously I have been sitting on this post a while.
** I do wonder if I should be writing about any of these things at all but I don't feel true to the record of our life if I don't. Fixing my archives (I'm still back in 2006) has made me realise how important this blog is to me in this sense.