24 JANUARY 2022

Towards the end of last year, our 2021 Grade 7 pupils continued a wonderful Clarries tradition, where they request fellow pupils and members of staff to sign a Clarries cushion, which becomes a treasured keepsake of memories for years to come. The cushion signing experience has almost become part and parcel of the Grade 7’s rite of passage as they begin their transition from Primary to High School. When the queues build up at my door, and as I search for a few succinct words of wisdom to leave on the fabric (by the time they get to me, there is barely an inch left to make use of), I am reminded that the time is near for the Grade 7’s to “leave the nest”. And as I ponder on this time-honored tradition (whether it be a cushion, a shirt or some other form of memorabilia), I cannot help but consider the various rites of passage and significant moments that our young pupils will pass through as they move from one stage of life to another. The manner in which they embrace, approach and handle these moments is unique and very personal for each one of them. The path from one grade to another, from primary to high school, and then onto tertiary education may be similar for many, but the manner in which they tackle the path, and the way in which their precious personalities mould the journey taken, is very much an individual one. As we start a new school year (and collectively pray for a more “normal” year than the previous one), it is worth spending a moment to be reminded that our children may all be on the same path through their primary school years, however, how their footsteps fall on their path will be very different for each one of them. And as adults, parents, role models and those responsible for their care, we need to be reminded of the beauty and wonder of each child’s individual journey. The destination may be the same for many of them, but the road taken will be determined by who they are as young people. We so often put our children in a box and limit their potential by expecting them to conform and be the same as those around them. Yes, there are undoubtedly certain standards of behavior and conduct which must be conformed to. But let us always remember that our children are unique, and when we compare their journey through life to others (and expect them to mirror the achievements, milestones and interests of those around them), we often rob them of the opportunity to be themselves. Sadly, we also often expect the journey of our own children to be a carbon copy of our own. Guide, nurture and teach them, absolutely. But let them be who they were created to be: themselves. Unfortunately we live in a world of comparisons, where every achievement, big or small, often receives some form of limelight via various social media platforms. May we never judge our children, or expect them to be someone else, as a result of the pressure that is often placed on us by what we see and hear in the world. Let us embrace their individual journeys, celebrate their uniqueness, and allow them to flourish as themselves. And most importantly, let us always allow them to be children.