I think come last Friday afternoon most parents of kids who attend primary schools in the great state of Queensland and perhaps other states around Australia breathed a collective sigh of relief. You see, Book Week was over for another year. Bl#&dy Book Week!! The great mum (and sometimes dad) shaming event of them all.
If you're anything like me, you were rummaging through bottom drawers at 8:00am on the day of the now infamous Book Week Parade looking for costumes for your kids while they proceeded to cry on their beds bemoaning that the costumes you had found were indeed too small and were better suited to their three year old sibling. Not only did we have to front up with a costume but also, lo and behold, we had to get the book to match. Hells bells….
You see I am all for parents being involved in their children’s school and activities associated with such. Parental reading in class, tuckshop, excursions, fetes, fairs, cake stalls, Book Week parades, attendance at sports carnivals, swimming carnivals, school assemblies, parent catch ups, school dances, school musicals are all part of our kids lives, and so ours as well. But at some point when do we say ‘enough is enough’? Little Johnny and little Susie can go without mum and or dad being at everything at all times. Resilience sometimes means doing it tough and doing it on our own. Mum and dad won’t always be there to pick up the pieces.
It’s not just about teaching your kid to stand on their own two feet and build resilience but it’s also in a lot of cases simply a case of survival. Case in point - I was speaking to a friend who told me that a mum she knew, a cleaner, was feeling so obligated to attend school events during the week that she had to ask her boss if she could work on a Sunday as she was taking time off during the week to placate her child and be there at the school. So, as she rightly said, Sunday, the day she should be spending with her family, was now becoming a work day as she had to provide money for her family to survive.... how have we all got it so wrong? When did ‘being involved’ become ‘always available?’
I remember my own mum when I was at school being around and present, but she wasn’t always there. I had to face some things on my own, just as I would in later life. One of my best friends was School Captain at a very prestigious girls school in a major city in Australia. She said ‘despite all odds’ she was made Captain. Despite all the other ‘over-involved’ parents being at the school 24/ 7 campaigning and pressing the flesh for their own daughters. You see, her mum and dad were most often never at her school. Everything she achieved was off her own bat, due to her own achievements, her good nature and her ability to work hard. She had no fall back position and indeed it served her well.
So next time you are feeling guilty about saying ‘no’ to yet another school activity - don’t.