As I am planning an end of year dinner with my “mum friends” from my daughters friendship group, I am thinking back over the last nearly four years, and have realised what a wonderful thing it has been to get to know these women. We have shared the journey of our beautiful daughters high school years with each other whilst our daughters are engaged in one of the most exciting and difficult times of their lives so far. As the 2013 schoolies head off for their biggest adventure yet I am forced to look toward 2014 and having my daughter in the same position. The most reassuring thing for me (beside the fact that I know I have a mature, responsible daughter, who I trust) is that I know I can rely on her friends to be there for her, look out for her and that they are like-minded and sensible.
With a change of school from primary to high school, the routine gathering of parents in and around the school at drop off and pick up time comes to an abrupt end. Even with my shift work and more and more mums increasing working hours, as the children get older, this had already started to decrease, but you still knew who was who in the zoo.
So the first year of high school is a bit strange as your child attempts to make new friends and looks for acceptance and happiness within a group that is right for them. None of which you know, so you just have to sit back and see.
My thoughts however, are not about the trials and tribulations of a thirteen year old making friends, but of how I, as her mother mingled, managed and meddled! All for a good cause.
By the end of grade eight my daughter was part of a group of very nice girls. But of course I didn’t know them and I didn’t know their parents. Not like primary school. So when the inevitable things like sleepovers, parties (birthday), trips to the movies, shopping excursions and school dances came along I was a bit unsure. She was wanting to go to these girls houses and be driven places by other parents it was sometimes worrying to not know who these people were. I took the opportunity to get to know the girls better by having a birthday party and having all of her friends over. I met all the mums or dads when they did drop off and pick up. I know that at age fourteen it might seem a bit silly to be having school birthday parties but it is worth the expense and effort to be a part of and witness all of the interactions. You get to observe who’s confident, who’s shy, who’s the funny one, the loud one, the one who is going to sit ON your kitchen table. You get to suss out who is able to interact openly and who might be sneaky or think this is all beneath them.
When I realised that this group of girls seemed to be fairly settled I arranged a mother’s dinner. I had ten out of twelve come along. For some it was the first time meeting any of their daughter’s friends mothers. We had a great night sharing a meal, a couple of bottles of wine and our contact details. I then put a list together and emailed it around . It was a great start to some very nice friendships. We have been able to share a lot of good times together, with and without the girls. We have gotten to know each others standards and expectations. We have been able to come to know the people who are raising the most influential people in our daughters lives.
We were able to share the load with pick up’s and drop off’s to concerts, weekends away and other dinners and parties. We have shared each others company and our girls success’ at drama performances, musical concerts, international women’s day breakfast’s and at academic award morning teas. We always have a ready-made “table” when booking into school events. We had a lovely night together seeing our girls looking very grown up and with “dates” on the night of their semi-formal. One of the other mums hosted the “all in” pre gathering and I hosted a little post gathering, this included about fifteen friends and their dates. Which went off very well considering the possibilities. I had a great mum friend of mine supervise the evening with me. Again a credit to the fantastic group of girls they are.
We have used texts to convey things like, “Just letting all of you ladies know that ……. will not be going to the dance party in woop woop on friday night. Hope this helps. I’m being told everyone is going?”. “Thanks Bernie ……. is not going either”. Mischief managed! We have been an intricate network of information on what went on where. Just like growing up in a country town. I will know what you have done before you get home, just in case you needed an incentive to behave.
For schoolies next year some of the other mothers and I, in consultation with our daughters have gotten together (had another night out) and have planned for schoolies. We have booked and paid deposits and have a room that will only take 4 people. But at a resort where some more of the group of girls are also staying. It is close to everything, we have discussed food, alcohol, locking of balcony door by management (requested by the girls themselves) and daily contact, not allowing anyone else to stay in the unit etc. We have been through the rules of the accommodation provider and discussed all of the pertinent rules with the girls. We all feel as happy as we can that our girls will have a safe and enjoyable week. It has really helped ease my mind about the whole thing.
Now as the girls are about to embark on year twelve I am looking forward to seeing them all be successful in their school life, having a great formal and loving and supporting each other through what I know to them seems like a very daunting year. I am happy that I have a fantastic group of “mum friends” to be sharing the ups and downs of this last year with the girls together. And I know that just like our girls, some of our friendship will also remain life long.
So my advice to anyone about to embark on a high school journey is “Get to know your kid’s friends, and their mum’s. Before schoolies week”
Stay safe, be happy.