Back to school: Big boys don’t cry

2015-01-14 14:42

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The first day of school has always been synonymous with tears: some of happiness and some of anxiety. They dampen the cheeks of both parents and kiddies. But not today.

This morning City Press joined a group of sweet young boys looking dapper in caps far too big for their heads and bidding farewell to concerned parents at King Edward VII Preparatory School in Houghton, Joburg.

By 7.30am, before the first bell rang, a steady drizzle had already begun.

The older boys, familiar with the school’s traditions, tipped their caps and offered a polite “morning ma’am” as women passed by and a “how do you do, sir”, for their older counterparts.

The grade R and 1 pupils looked on with great adoration and one or two of them tried out the gentlemanly act for themselves.

Their tiny faces were stoic – determined not to cry, or hold their mothers’ hands (well, not for too long), or show their anxiety.

Mothers and fathers who hung around for longer than socially acceptable were met with a beseeching “leave it alone”, “you can go home now” and the inevitable but charming, “I’m a big boy now, you know?”

The would-be big boys put on a show of defiance – but most were betrayed by clutching their oversized bags too tightly, their startled Bambi eyes watching their loved ones’ retreating backs.

A bell rang faintly, an invisible Pied Piper to guide the youngsters into their new classrooms. Some parents, who told City Press they had taken the day off work, joined them to find name tags on desks.

Even those who had been dismissed by their young men lingered at the door, trying to stay out of sight but refusing to miss the occasion.

“I can’t believe he’s so grown up,” was a common phrase, as was “it’s like he doesn’t even need me any more”.

One woman told City Press: “He is the last of five boys to go off to school. It is so exciting but sad. This day is one of my favourite parts of being a mother.”

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