Farewell stras sandwiches and Friday treats

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When my boy started school way back in 2002, my strategy for dealing with requests for not-so-healthy lunchbox inclusions was to institute a routine – on Fridays he could have a stras sandwich and a chocolate bar in his lunch. Not on any other day, just Fridays. Two years later, when my girl joined him at school, it was the same deal. She once told me that it became quite the event amongst her friends to find out what her ‘Friday treat’ would be! Forty weeks of school per year, 13 years per child. If my maths is correct, I think that means I’ve made over 1000 stras sandwiches and popped over 1000 chocolate bars into lunchboxes. This morning, I made my last Friday lunch box. It’s the last full week of school for my girl. The last full week of being a school mum for me.

When my boy finished school, I remember my heart filling as I watched him conduct the year 12s in singing a farewell song at their valedictory dinner, listened to him – along with all his classmates -tell of his reflections of his time at school at his final cathedral service, and then my eyes moistening and overflowing as he walked out of his final chapel service, candle in hand with the school choir singing Coldplay’s ‘I Will  Fix You’.  I recalled the nights I stood rocking my baby boy to sleep, his tiny hands resting on my neck, and now here he was, towering over me and enveloping me in his embrace as he we stood in the courtyard farewelling his schooldays.

Next week it is my girl’s turn. On Monday she will have her last classes. Tuesday morning will see her celebrating muck-up day with her friends in their dyed and remodelled summer uniforms. In the afternoon we will attend her final assembly at school when all the year 12s will be presented with a rose from the prep girls. The little prep girls they once were, now grown into beautiful young women. In the evening we will attend her valedictory dinner. And then the next morning, the final revision before exams starts.

During their time at school I’ve watched both my boy and my girl grasp the opportunities their schools have offered them. They have been prepared to participate even if they’ve not been overly confident in their abilities and I think that is a wonderful attribute to have – to not feel that we have to shine at something to give it a go. I’ve seen them take part in activities where they have had ability, and this has been recognised by their school and peers. And I’ve seen them grit their teeth through activities they really didn’t want to be a part of – swimming sports, school camps, we’re looking at you! But that’s part of life, isn’t it? Sometimes you just have to suck it up! Through it all, I think they’ve learned that the more you put in to an experience, the more you get out of it. They have learned about themselves – what they like, who they like, what they value.

When my boy was approaching his final days, I wondered how I would cope without the regular school routine. How would I adjust to life with someone coming in and out of the house at odd times, and maybe not even needing to be out of the house on some days? But having overcome that hurdle, I am looking forward to waving goodbye to the demands of the school routine. I am excited for my girl to have flexibility in her days and to take the skills she has learned at school into her new world and to use them to expand her experiences even further. The many extra curricular actvities she has thrown herself into, combined with a constant and heavy academic workload, have made life very difficult at times.  To be freed from the rigidity of the school timetable will be much appreciated by her – and us!

Nevertheless, I know that a bucket load of tears will be shed – by her and me! I will be remembering the touch of her little hand in mine as we were out and about doing the shopping in the days before she started kinder. I will be remembering the little girl who wandered out from her bedroom before her first day of school asking ‘Mum, what if I’m in the secret garden and …’. I will be remembering all the ballet concerts, plays and music performances we’ve seen her in and the joy on her face when we’ve met her ‘after the show’. And I will be marvelling at the beautiful, compassionate, socially aware, witty, interesting young woman she has become – a young woman who is deeply appreciative of the education she has received, aware that there are many young girls throughout the world who do not have such an opportunity.

So. It is now time for me to wave goodbye to their childhoods. But they will always be my babies and I will never wave goodbye to my children.  And they will never be too old for me to tell them I love them to the moon and back and even more than that.

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14 thoughts on “Farewell stras sandwiches and Friday treats

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Karen. I teared up a bit writing it! i’ve been very fortunate to be in the position where I have been able to spend so much time with them. It has given me so many special memories x

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  1. Goodness me, both kids out of school! You might need to make yourself a Friday treat sandwich for old times sake! I have to ask, what is a stras sandwich? I am jealous of the Boost bar, they used to be my favorite when I lived in the UK. If I see them here, I grab one and devour it!!!

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    1. Ah, yes, I may have to, Clare! It was a bit strange going to the supermarket yesterday and not having to go to the deli counter! ‘Stras’ or ‘strasbourg’ to give it it’s full title(!) is a processed meat. I have no idea what’s in it, hence the reason it was a once a week sandwich, but it’s yummy. When I was little, the lady at the deli always gave me a free slice when my mum was went shopping. Many fond stras memories!

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  2. How beautiful, Carolyn. There are so many memories in what you’ve written. You must literally be feeling ‘all the feels’! We are a long way from that (I think − one in Grade 5 and one in Grade 3) but I suspect it will come around quicker than I think. Lots of love for the week ahead, and all that is to follow x

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    1. Ah yes, lots of feels! I think your kids are in the halcyon years. Big enough to know how to dress, feed, and toilet themselves and be in bed at parent friendly hours and not too much homework to intrude into family life. Enjoy!

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      1. Yeeesss. We’ve got to work on the bedtime aspect, but all others, I agree, they are really lovely to be with too (not that they weren’t before, but I’m learning so much, as they are moving into spheres that are not just from us, and it’s fascinating.

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  3. Gosh, that made me teary and my oldest is only in Grade 4. Lovely, evocative writing. It brought back lovely memories of my own ‘stras sandwiches’ – although we had stras and sauce – which was a huge treat! I love your adage of not having to be good at everything, but just being willing to try everything. That’s great and something I will work towards teaching my own kids. I hope everything goes well for muck up day, exams and beyond. xx

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    1. Thanks, Collette. I got a bit teary writing it! So many memories! My girl has stras and sauce, the boy just went plain stras – not a condiment kinda guy! I think they have been fortunate to be in supportive environments to give things a go without fear of sniggering if they’re not the best, and also small school environments where you have, perhaps, a greater chance to participate. Enjoy the rest of the school years with your brood x

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