Last night I attended the last prize giving of our primary years – both Miss 15 and Miss 12 will be in high school and I will no longer have whinging rights on hearing the same address by the principal and president of the board twice. (It has to be said that this year they nailed it with the content and timing so I really had nothing to whinge about – it really was quite good).
It is often a very bittersweet moment these lasts. Sweet because you only now have one prize giving a year to go to and bitter because well, we’re all ageing. Fast.
However this time round there was another element.
Two months ago one of Miss12’s teachers passed away suddenly. She was only 46 years old. She was buried next to her father who had died earlier in the year. It was sadder than sad to see a family and a school community in mourning for one of their own, one who was so very beloved.
The School dedicated a perpetual memorial prize last night in her name for the Most Conscientious and Diligent Primary Student donated by the Year 6 class of 2014.
And you know how sometimes you get goosebumps for no reason? The Artist asked whether he could leave after the standard class prizes were awarded and I said he should possibly like to stay a while longer for the special prizes. He looked strangely at me but complied.
Miss12 won that prize together with another classmate. I wanted to have tears and tears and tears but I’m not one to cry in public and I’m not sure I would have been able to stop that easily.
Because how bittersweet. And in the words of Miss12 – “I felt so sad getting that prize. Excited too but sad. Because if Miss Leigh was alive there wouldn’t be this prize and that would be better”. Despite all the congratulations and the honour of it, there’s that terrible sadness.
There’s also another side. Miss12 started school in 2007 having just been diagnosed with a visual processing disorder. This means it’s really hard to learn to read, write, do maths. Until it’s decoded, and the brain has been trained in its own way to learn, all these things are just squiggles on a page. Literally. And from first hand experience I can tell you how scary it is, for both the parent and the child. For the first four years of her schooling, afternoons were traumatic. I would sit with her at the table and wade through homework.
I found a book in a store in the Blue Mountains called All the way to Lhasa. About a boy and his yak making the journey to Lhasa by just putting one foot in from of the other. And that’s what we did most afternoons. Sometimes with tears but always with perseverance. That book used to echo through my head.
I worried every day about the later years of school and how it was going to pan out. About three years ago Miss 12 started not needing me at the table, but in the general vicinity. Two years ago even that became unnecessary. She is pedantic about how she presents her work and that it is handed in on time. Conscientious and Diligent. And she wants to do it on her own now.
It was hard to feel happy about winning an award in someone’s memory when that someone passed too soon – but I know how much work, how many hours have gone in and will continue to go in with this child who has to be a little more conscientious and diligent to make it work.
And I guess there’s a few messages here for us all, the journey might be a long one, but we continue to put one foot in front of the other.
Love and light