Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Senior Cat is going to school

today. He has had an invitation from the Little Drummer Boy's younger brother to attend Older Persons' Day.
He went to school as the guest for the Little Drummer Boy's Older Persons' Day too.
When I was a kitten it was Mothers' Day and sometimes grandmothers came too - except that they didn't do that for me in the same way.  My parents were some of the teachers so they were never there in my classroom looking at my work and admiring the art work on the wall and the odd things on the nature science table and listening to me caterwaul along with every other kitten. 
If my teacher needed to talk about me (almost never) or my siblings (again, almost never) I assume they did it in the staff room at morning tea time. According to the Senior Cat my worst sin was being caught reading a book when I should have been listening to something else - usually something I already knew or had done. It isn't that I was particularly well behaved but that being well behaved was less bother.
I wonder now about those Mothers' Day and then Parents' Day visits. It was mostly the mothers who came because, back then, not nearly as mothers went to work. Some of them worked part-time. Others went back to work when their children were old enough to go to and from school alone. There were "latch-key" kids who actually went home to an empty house. They were allowed to help themselves to a snack if they wanted it and then they headed out to play in the street or in someone else's yard if it was raining. They knew when to go home because someone's mother would tell them or someone passing would tell them the time. Their mothers might or might not come to Mothers' Day but almost every mother did and I know that local businesses where mothers did work expected to give the mother in question a couple of hours away from whatever she was working at. It was considered to be the right thing to do.
I don't imagine the teachers even knew whether the mothers went to work or not unless something went wrong and the parent needed to be contacted. Then there would be the trip to the school office. The records would be looked up and, if the family had the phone on, then the mother would be called. Where we lived at the time only about half the families, if that, even had a phone. 
Now there are multiple means of contact - landline, mobile, text, e-mail. There is "before school care" and "after school care" and  the "school holiday programme". Children are not permitted to go to and from school alone until they, at very least, are in the upper primary school - and then only if there will be an adult there and the route is considered "safe". We are constantly advised of all the dangers and about how to keep children "safe".
I will be interested to see what the Senior Cat thinks this time. He was impressed with the Little Drummer Boy's teacher last time. He thought the classroom was a good learning environment.
But, like me, he thinks that his generation and mine had a better childhood in many ways. He walked to and from school alone at the age of five - across two quite busy roads and a railway line. He took responsibility for a friend who had petit-mal seizures from the time he was six.  He roamed the streets and went down to the beach with his brother for hours on end. 
My siblings and I were out and about too. I rode my tricycle to school from the start. It was about a mile and a half each way. I crossed many roads and the railway line. We knew about "stranger danger" but there were many more people out on foot too so perhaps we were safer. 
I wonder how the Little Drummer Boy and his brother will remember Older Persons' Day because there is no Mothers' Day or Parents' Day now. It is Parents' Night - and you just, according to the mother of the Little Drummer Boy,  "queue up to see the teacher for five minutes each". 
That's not the same as showing your mother why you had to find the mulberry leaves for the silk worms on the nature science table.

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