For 13 years I had children in primary school and although there were many configurations of shared delivery and collection to the schools involved I spent many of those years meeting lively excitable children tumbling from the classroom. I like most other parents chatted amiably to the others stood in the cold and wet or occasionally glorious sunshine. The British weather was always a sure fire starting point of conversation.
The playground pick up was a propagating ground for the foundations of lifelong friendships. Inevitably we grouped around a particular door, or pathway where the year group exploded from at the end of the day. Also inevitably despite the teachers insisting on parent punctuality, this did not reach as far as the inside of the classroom.
Often, and I should know having been both on the receiving end of this hand of help and having covered for other mothers. A parent would wait at a younger siblings exit point leaving another to gather an older child from their escape route. These small gestures of help extended beyond the action itself and sowed the seeds of friendship which were to last long beyond primary school.
Gossip was rife amongst the gatherers who having exhausted the British weather needed other stimuli to satiate their craving for conversation and inclusion. People were happy to voice their opinions loudly but were also the first to rally round in a crisis. It was a real treat to be able to help out someone in trouble. It gave kudos and invited the gossip mongers to clamour like moths around a flame to hear her latest updates. The helper became the focus with their accessibility and calm remoteness to convey the drama rather than the ragged emotions.
As children reached out to make new friends, they attended birthday parties or sports fixtures outside the protected environment of the school gate confine. This led to the shared lift culture, giving friends of the children lifts to the said events. It was reciprocal often one take, one collect but a coffee and cake or biscuits were always on the table at drop off. Coffee led to longer stops and soon wine or beer as the events reached into evening. Families got together until finally the children did their own things while the parents all mixed in little cliques of firm familiarity. The children grew up and went onto top school but the foundations of the friendships formed by the parents flourished.
I went to pick Mini Son up from school this week queueing just to drive up the road even before finding a small space to park the car. Remaining in the warm car as the hail hurtled earthwards outside dropping large boulders of iced sleet on the windscreen, the radio presenter entertained me with anecdotes, melodies and interviews. Mini Son in true brotherly solidarity with the older two managed to be the last child to leave the school premises.
As I waited patiently in the cocoon of the car; my thoughts were drawn to the older children erupting from classes in a lava flow of dispersion, wearing nothing but tight skinnies, very mini mini- skirts which may have been large belts and flimsy t-shirts. Gushing past me into the battered ghosts of once glorious cars which were revved and goaded in ear piercing gear screeching kangaroo jumps; I realised these were once the same children I stood waiting with their parents at the gates of the primary school. They had shed their cute childish coyness, emerging as confident, self-assured, independent car driving teenagers.
Times they are a changing!
Although I struggle with finding time to write, I am still editing previous work. I have two stories ready to send to a magazine, one is now as ready as I will ever get it, the other needs more editing – reads ok but way over the word limit so I need to get the knife and hash it about or maybe re-write. I was challenged to write a piece for competition. The challenge was not so much in the writing as in the short time I was given to complete it. I managed it and sent off the piece, I know it will not come anywhere as it will be up against some big names but to me the act of completing and sending off was the hurdle I successfully overcame.
Memories takes forever to edit as this has to go low down on the to-do pile but the edit is chugging along. Some major re-writing will follow to hopfully bring it’s appeal to a much wider audiance. Would love to have this with an agent before my annual inspirational pilgrimage to Swanwick this year, but no promises!
Enjoy the read and let me know how your lives are changing.