So, Rufus is about to start prep. This parenting shit just got real. You might think that him having attained the age of nearly 5, and Zadie 2.5, indicates that the parenting has been real for half a decade now – but frankly, no. “Que sera sera” has been our motto, and by the seat of our pants we have flown.

When we became aware about six months ago that we had to choose a primary school for him, we were flushed with panic that we were about to be revealed as parents who didn’t know how to go about choosing a school. Also, we didn’t know how to go about choosing a school. Luckily it turns out that isn’t such a concern here, where our options are limited to usurious international schools (too poor); locals (not enough Cantonese); or the English Schools Foundation. So that first choice was made for us. Then, within ESF, we found we were only permitted to apply for the school in our catchment area. By this method a school was basically chosen for us, and therefore, relieved of any decision-making, we could forget about the whole thing. Until now.

A few weeks ago Joel and I attended a parent orientation session. We gathered in the school hall with 200 or so other parents, to be told how to label a sunhat and pack a lunchbox. So many good ideas about plasticware were revealed; it was extremely reassuring. Some parents even took notes. Rufus has also had two orientation days, which he was very excited about. For these sessions, the preps were split into classes by colour. Rufus was in ‘yellow’ and was wearing a yellow t-shirt. Afterwards, we were riding a local public bus on the way to the train station when a number of his similarly clad classmates and their parents got on the bus too. I turned to Joel and said, “There are so many yellows on this bus!” Quite loudly, because it’s just a regular statement, right?


That also reminds me of this other time when we were coming home in a taxi. The driver had one of those ergonomic seat covers made out of small wooden pine beads – you know the ones? Rufus announced: “Mama, this taxi driver’s got little yellow balls on his seat.” Yes. Yes, he probably does.

But this isn’t about our almost daily cultural faux pas. It’s about a rite of passage, and Rufus – and us – growing up. I’m a little shocked by how emotional I’m feeling. When you’re about to have your first kid, everyone’s telling you their birth stories and you’re thinking, “Sure, but it’ll be different for me. Whatever!” You smile, but cavalierly dismiss their advice. You feel you’re surely the first person to go through this, and you know everything! Ditto starting school. When my kids were under 3, people would say, “They grow up so quick! They’ll be in school before you know it!” I’d be like, “Whatev! What do you know, old person! Also, good. Then I might finally be able to finish that book I’ve been halfway through since 2005.” But now I find myself uttering platitudes about “the years passing so quickly” and “I remember when they were this big”. So, parents of kids who are younger than mine, just listen up, alright: cherish them when they’re young because before you know it they’ll be gone and living in a sharehouse with three hobos, an inoperable microwave and seven bongs, subsisting on home-brand pasta and granted cheese, and only calling home when they want some money. HUG THEM A LITTLE TIGHTER TONIGHT, ALRIGHT!

This is Rufus on his first day of kinder, 18 months ago:


We’d been in Hong Kong for less than a week. We were living in temporary accommodation that made the sharehouse with three hobos and an inoperable microwave that he’ll eventually live in seem luxuriously well-equipped. My boy was away from his family and his little mates, his cats, his home and everything that was familiar to him – and he got on that school bus by himself five days a week, and started to make new friends, and learn Chinese and reading and writing, and how to be away from us during the day. At the same time I was stressed about returning to work while still breastfeeding Zadie, Zadie was stressed about the same thing, and Joel was stressed with the effort of looking after us all. Rufus did a monumental thing in that sense. He adjusted, he took it all in his stride, and he grew up.

Now he’s growing up a bit more, and it does hurt a little in my heart.


Waiting for the bus to orientation day last week.

Shine on, mate.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Rhi says:

    Aw, my heart hurts a little bit thinking about all our little kiddies going off to school. Sounds like Rufus is going to do just fine.
    I wish our kindy here had have had info sessions on how to pack a lunch box! I had been using Glad Wrap on Milla’s sandwiches for a good 6 months before she told me that no-one else in her class had that on their lunch, and could she please have her sandwiches “just with nothing around them”. Erm. OK! Easier for me!

    Good luck Rufus and Mummy!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Oh God, now I’m freaking out about whether or not to use Glad Wrap! They did suggest using colour-coded plastic containers for “small lunch” and “big lunch” but no mention of Glad Wrap!
      THANKS RHI!! As if this wasn’t stressful enough! πŸ˜‰

  2. Maree says:

    Archie started school this year and Sid is off next year … and, yes, I keep thinking about all those silly people that told me to treasure them as babies as they grow so quickly … statements that seem so stupid at the time when you’re sleep deprived my only fantasy was for them to growing up a bit so I could just get a decent night’s sleep … and now those same silly people are telling me about all the sleepness nights they’re going to cause me as teenagers … surely, it’s can’t be true!!!!

  3. jadeluxe says:

    I’m still holding on to the fantasy about them sleeping in till midday every day when they’re teenagers – that’s what I did so it must be true!! CANNOT WAIT!
    Lucky you’ve got your massive reno to occupy your time next year! Maree v The Bank – 2012’s Battle Royale.

  4. belinda sweeney says:

    Jade, it goes soooo quick. Illira has her last year of primary school next year and then she will be in high school…. bloody hell, where did that go?? Tupperware sandwich boxes are my lifesavers… no gladwrap required and nude food lunchboxes, I will pick you one up from lovely colac if you want, they have a spot for everything, and you dont have to use gladwrap. Mind you by the end of a term I am stuffing any bloody thing in that lunchbox. It is my least favourite thing about school, 5 days of what to pack.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      I remember going to Christmas dinner in North Melbourne when you were pregnant with Illira, like 500 weeks pregnant – remember that? πŸ˜‰ That was the first time I had oysters. The stupid things I can remember!
      Right, I have to get some of those Tupperware sandwich boxes. Please grab me one and I’ll pick it up when we’re there in August. Also start keeping a list of lunch ideas so I can steal it πŸ˜‰

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