Today, my "baby" began high school. Yes, 2014 marked the start of Year 8 for my daughter and the ever increasing realisation for me that my time with her is precious. However, unlike many families, I did not buy her a gift to mark this occasion, which apparently is becoming more and more common.
Over the past few weeks I have listened to my daughter and her friends, read their posts on facebook and discussed with them how they feel about starting high school, their expectations and whether the first day of high school is marked by any special happenings in their family. Most of the young people that I have spoken to said that their first day of high school is marked in much the same way as any other day of school - getting up, getting dressed (albeit in a brand new uniform which is probably too big!), having breakfast, packing their school bag (if not done the night before) and then going to school. Being the first day of high school, many of the children said that they would be driven to school by Mum or Dad and picked up by them. But that was about it. Oh yes, they would also get to talk about their day at dinner that night. This is a big one in our family.
A few of the children however, had a very different outlook and expectation about their first day at high school. Yes, their before school preparation was much the same as the other children, but their after school routine was where things changed. Both children that I spoke to said that their mothers would pick them up and take them out for afternoon tea, during which time they would be presented with a first day gift! One of the girls said that when she went home, the extended family would come over for dinner and also bring "first day of high school" gifts! This is very different to anything that I have heard of. I proceeded to ask what type of presents were given as "first day of high school" gifts and the most common gifts were money and gift cards, as well as a graduation type bear that the family had signed.
I understand that for many families, giving a gift is a special way to mark a momentous occasion, regardless of whether it is a wedding, birthday or first day at school and I am sure that it is just one of many ways to ensure that the day is a memorable one for the person involved.
My family does not have the custom of giving gifts for a person's first day of school, university or work although I have no doubt that my daughter would not mind if I decided to introduce the concept, this afternoon!
One thing that I have no doubt is a common fact amongst all families with a child starting primary school or high school for the first time today, is that as parents we worry and just want our children to be happy and come home with a smile on their faces.
Do you or have you ever bought a gift for a student starting school?