tran·si·tion (trn-zsshn, -ssh-)
1. Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.
a. A modulation, especially a brief one.
b. A passage connecting two themes or sections.
3.A period during childbirth that precedes the expulsive phase of labor, characterized by strong uterine contractions and nearly complete cervical dilation.
Transition. The word feels like it involves an easing, a slow process, a passage.
My transitions have never been like that. Maybe moving to Australia could have been a transition, slowly moving to another country, visit first, learn the language, live here for a while and then move. Moving schools, a few visits, meet a few of the students, orientation week, then move.
But in my life, transitions have been a lot more like that third definition: that one of labour.
Violent, expulsive, strong. Out of control, a time when you feel like there is an end in sight to something, but all you feel like doing is letting go, your body takes over, and there is blinding, tearing pain, and a terrible urge that takes over, and your heart races, and then it is over.
That was my parents' idea of a transition, I think. Do it quickly, plant them in their new school mid-year, and they will sink or swim. Chuck them into a new country, and by being there, they will absorb the culture, the language, all at once. A dizzying expulsion into the new, like a newborn baby, blinded by the light, the cold, the newness of it all. Except, the newborn gets picked up, cuddled, given nurturing warm milk.
We were left to explore our new world in the dark. Told that we were stupid if we faltered, just be brave.
My baby girl has a transition visit to her new school today.
For her, despite the fact that she was scared, it is a true transition. She walked into the huge school, full of new symbols of faith that she is not familiar with, students that tower over her head, pictures of priests and ex-scholars, and she shone. She walked in, proudly and confidently, knowing that I would be there to provide the comfort, should she need it. They talked about their home room class, and for a minute I panicked. Oh, no! She won't know what that is. Transported back 22 years to my first day at St Clair High: I went to my first class, only to find that all the students were different from what I expected and I insisted that I wanted to be in that class. The teacher argued with me in a foreign language and got me to spell my name and tried to tell me that I had to go to home room first. I argued back in my poor excuse for english that I wanted to be in that class. Kids sniggered in the background, and my skin burned.
Yep, yep ,see ya, she said to me, as I walked away in horrible torment.
Yes, my issues. No more, no less. I feel like a ship without a rudder, in a wild storm, doubting my decision, doubting myself and wishing that I had someone to hold me up. OW OW OW it hurts. But thankfully, I have learnt, and her transition will be almost painless, slow and welcoming, nurturing.
I am so glad that we humans are capable of learning.
I know that tonight, when I am sitting there at the parents' information night, I will be that 14 year old again, and my heart will be pounding. But I also know that as a new parent, this time, the transition will be painless for me, I hope. If I can just keep my memories separate from the reality that I am experiencing, I should be alright. I will just keep telling myself that I am a 36 year old old bag who should know better. Without their knowledge, I am learning through these kids, through being their rudder I am finding my way in these stormy seas. They feel ok these days, very few things daunt me. These kids have taught me more in 12 years than I learnt in 24 by myself. I hope they don't notice how lost I feel sometimes. I hope they just feel my undying support for their endeavours and my guiding hands. I hope they don't tremble...
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