The last day of the year, in the heart of a South African summer.
I’m at work now (sadly), but this time of year brings back fleeting memories of childhood summers gone by:
Hours and hours in the back yard playing soccer and cricket;
Still more hours and hours on the tennis courts,
pushing ourselves to the limits in best-of-5-set matches –
always with the end reward being an ice cold cooldrink
plus chocolate treats to accompany.
Sunny Durban days are the enduring memory of my past life;
Those school holidays where responsibilities were non-existent,
and pleasures were all we lived for:
Movies, video games, staying up late,
Not a care in the world
until the looming dread of the new school year crept back into our thoughts.
Stationery and uniforms,
Haircuts and shining those shoes for the first day back…
Oh, the horrors of educational imprisonment –
early morning rising to get to school on time,
assemblies and new timetables,
finding out whose class we’d be in –
wishing to be with our friends,
who shared the struggle with us –
making the torturous daylight hours more bearable.
Science lessons and Maths tests
(the latter of which still haunts my dreams),
academic pressures and extra-curricular bothers…
School was never a ‘home away from home’ for me,
yet those years –
while stifling my freedom within the system –
gave rise to the foundations of adult life,
and provided the best memories.
as my own child approaches her first year of ‘back to school’,
I feel the dread for her;
I know the anxiety she’ll face over the years,
Yet somehow, some way
I’ll need to put a bright face on it all;
so that she can be more positive than I,
and enjoy her coming occupation in ways I never did.
For just as she’ll face the seemingly never-ending grind of school life –
year after year –
so too will these years be her platform for her future,
and her treasure chest of precious childhood memories.
School doesn’t last forever,
nor does childhood;
But while we’re young,
we live through both –
a microcosm of life,
good and bad – all mixed together.
So, my child,
appreciate both sides,
take it all in,
and then move on to the adulthood that awaits beyond these endless summers of youth.