It’s been a long old summer with your pre-secondary school sprog (SSS) moaning about how their mates are away, how they are soooooo bored, there is nothing to do, nothing to eat, nothing to wear. You are near on bankrupt from the new school uniform and list of equipment they need (and never use), and you can’t wait to pack them off and enjoy a morning where you don’t have to get dressed or even leave the house (unless you have to go to work) and you can legitimately drink a hot brew and have chocolate hobnobs for breakfast while watching Holly & Phil on This Morning.
Your first-born is off to big BIG school
So your baby starts secondary school this week. Good luck. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions for you both. Yours can be placated with gin. Your sprog – more likely an alcopop – joking, that’s more a year 8 activity.
You probably had a lot of helpful information from both schools (primary and secondary) about the ‘transition’. But what they won’t have talked about is the transformation of your innocent, uncomplicated babe, into something that more closely resembles one of the stages of the evolutionary diagram you see from ape to man. Closer to ape.
So here I’m going to give you the low down on the non-curricular changes you may experience now you are a secondary school parent.
You are redundant
How you feel about this really depends on what kind of primary school parent you were. If the playground was the biggest part of your social and emotional life, you are going to need more gin – and to take up pilates or campaign for world peace or something. Because as of now, you are not really a big part of your kid’s school life – aside from the obligatory homework nagging – and that actually increases.
No school runs (yay for me). But also no idea of who these kids are that yours mentions all the time (half the time I don’t even know what sex they are due to ambiguous names like Tree and Paris) and more importantly no idea who their parents are (aside from those who were primary friends) – and whether they seem ‘ok’. In fact for many months, you may not even see or meet any of these kids, let alone their parents.
You won’t discuss and pick any after school clubs to sign up for. So it’ll be a nice surprise when they announce they have joined the Thrash Metal group and need an electric guitar and an amp. They make those decisions for themselves, if they can be arsed, otherwise they will ‘just hang out with my mates’ – whatever that means (the occasional drag of a fag in a park and tormenting each other usually).
That said, parent ‘consultations’ as they are called at our school, are a much bigger affair. 20 minute slots with evvvvveeeeerrrryyy subject teacher, means you need an afternoon off work and drink at the ready.
The physical changes – look out for them – they may take time to show
I’m not talking about the textbook biology, balls and voice-drop type changes. No no, I’m talking about weird physical changes to the way your child looks and moves.
The long-arm of the teen
The typical teen species of both varieties, on joining secondary school and presumably from the weight of the world on their shoulders and the excess school books and uneaten lunch in their bags – develops much longer arms. And not in a useful reach-that-tin-of-beans-off-that-shelf-for-me kind of way. No, they just seem to hang – nay, swing – somewhere around the knees. Keep a safe arm-swing distance, because at any time, in response to you asking something unreasonably demanding like ‘Could you put your plate in the dishwasher please?’ – these arms will flail about like one of those air-filled men they have at car showroom events – while they grunt about how unfair life is and how they ‘have to do everything around here’.
Now this is mostly observed in the male of the secondary school species. Your previously normal walking boy may suddenly appear as though one leg is shorter than the other when he walks. Or, that one is ‘asleep’ and he is dragging it along. For discussion with other parents, and medical professionals, I believe this can be labelled as the ‘bad boy limp’.
Learning a new language
Ahhh secondary school, a broadening of the horizons, learning of new subjects – academic and vocational – and also the opportunity to learn a new language. No no, not Spanish or French. And not them – you.
If you want to communicate with your secondary school sprog (SSS), you will have to learn their language. And this required regular refresher courses. For example, ‘blood’ – affectionate greeting for a friendly acquaintance – is like sooooooo old-people speak, no one says that anymore.
Your SSS will use a series of words – usually one at a time – that may have a parallel meaning in the actual English language. Which makes it very confusing for a mother to keep up and decipher meaning. Things like ‘bait’. Not apparently a substance used to lure or torment someone or something. No no, here are a few of the current SSS language pearls to help you get started:
Bait: When something is like totally obvious.
Example: It was so bait dat Tree threw dat pen at Paris!
Peng: Sexy, fit, delicious (I know, wrong)
Example: Oh my dayz, she is totally peng!
Peak: Refers to an excellent, top quality moment or situation. But hold on, it can also mean the exact opposite.
Example (positive): Oh fam, dat party was peeeeaaakkkk!
Example (negative): OMG your mum makes you put your plate in the dishwasher, that’s so peak!
Fam: Not as you might imagine, a term to address a member of your actual family, no no, it’s more to describe your ‘peoples’ – those you consider close enough to be family.
Example: S’up fam?
Bare: A lot. Very. Really. Expression of disbelief.
Example: My mum made me get up before lunch fam, I’m bare tired!
Your teen will also swing wildly from chatting incessantly about things of zero importance in your life – Khloe Kardashian for example – to random letters delivered by text.
See pic. KK?
No matter how much you think you are, you are NOT COOL
Finally, from here on in, unless all their friends are busy, or you are in a geographical location with no other human-kind and no wifi or phone signal – your SSS will not choose to spend time with you. But for the first 3 years or so of secondary school, trust me, this really may not be a bad thing.
So how do you cope? I mean in the hours of the day before it’s acceptable to drink gin in your current timezone…
What to do? Enjoy the challenge.
Make it fun – for you, not them – everything you do will be embarrassing. Have some ‘bants’ – use their lingo, especially in texts and in front of their friends.
Better still; throw some totally ancient ones in, like LOL.
Joking aside, in-between deciphering what they are saying, listen to them. Pick up on the cues. It can be difficult time, going from a smaller primary, where they know everyone, to a massive new environment where they are the small fish. They may bounce around friendship groups trying to find where they fit, trying things (stupid things) to feel accepted and validated. Invite their friends round – let them have a space to ‘chill’ if only to keep an eye out and the door open. There may be a time when they, or a friend in turmoil, may be glad of it.
Mum to 4 gorgeous but exhausting munchkins ranging from 14 down to 11 months. But we have a full Sky package and all the Sports now so there shouldn’t be any more. I live in London, although I’m such a perpetual zombie thanks to baby #4 bucking my sleep training genius score, that I look more like London lives in me. I love my kids. But I also love wine. And gin. And Galaxy.