I was going through a big transition to my new school. And it was the end of my first day.
Looking out the tram window, I panicked. Oh no! That was my stop!
Quickly, I pulled the cord, high above my head, but it was too late. It sailed onwards – the tram would wait for no man, or even a little girl. My heart was in my mouth as we travelled slowly up Burke Road in the after-school crush.
My mother had shown me what to do when we caught the tram to my new school that morning, but she hadn’t given me any idea about what to do if something went wrong. It had been an exciting start to my first day, that first tram ride to school. But the trip home was turning into a disaster.
WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO?
Knowing I couldn’t get off until the next stop, I waited, but it seemed to take forever, and each second took me further away from a tiny pocket of familiar streets. Trundling past the glassy-doored Hoyts cinema on the right; past the end of that other busy street on the left whose name I did not yet know; we kept on going all the way up to the next set of traffic lights. I was in shock.
FINALLY, THE TRAM STOPPED.
Nauseous, I grabbed my things, jumped off, and ran. I ran as fast as my seven-year-old legs would carry me. Down the hill, carefully over that busy T-intersection. “BURWOOD RD” the street sign read. Scooting past Hoyts-across-the-road with its big glass doors. Finally I got back to the pedestrian crossing where I should have got off.
Stopping there, I waited for the traffic to stop, itching to cross over. Waiting, waiting,waiting. Close to tears, I ran over, then took the corner into Cookson Street, away from the tramline, and the cars, and the noise and kept running. All the way to our new, still unfamiliar, house.
AND HOME . . .
Bursting into tears as I galloped inside, where both my parents were still patiently unpacking boxes.
“I got lost!” I blurted out.
All this happened after a long first day at my new school. And it was such a relief to be home, but such a blow to my pride that I had mucked things up, and such an indignity to my, well, to my everything!
I am sure my parents wondered what all the fuss was about. There I was, home safe and sound! To them it was a successful outcome. But to me, in my heart-fast-beating, adrenalin-rushing state, it was something it took a while to recover from. I must have had my six-year-old sister in tow as well – but to be honest, I can’t even remember her being there at all!
Have you ever had to do a transition that felt awful?
Whether starting at a new school (maybe mid-term, like I did in Grade Two), beginning a new job, or turning up at a new gym, transitions are rarely easy to navigate. In addition, it doesn’t matter if you are seven, 17 or 70, moving into new and unknown territory is uncomfortable at best, and downright terrifying at worst.
At this time of year, people are in transition all over Australia. In most states, the school term has already begun. New jobs are starting. Brand-new mothers arriving at school. Green teachers with new classes. Surprised widows and widowers coming to grips with life ahead. Overwhelmed refugees arriving in our lucky country. And far across the sea, there is even a whole nation struggling to comes to terms with a new government, complete with controversial new President – also in transition. As you can see, transition is everywhere.
Here are some things I have learned to ease the pain of transition, not just to treasure myself, but also to treasure my children.
- Patience! Be aware that this is the “new normal”. Believe it or not, one day this will feel familiar, so this feeling will not last forever. It is a temporary discomfort. So stick it out.
- Prepare as best as you can. My mother did what she could to prepare me for that tram ride, and it was enough, because I did get home. She tried to cover the bases – but she couldn’t possibly cover every contingency. And you know, I learned not to miss the stop after that!
- Be aware of others going through transition. Kindness goes a long way for new people in new situations. How about giving new people a break, be friendly, smile, show them the ropes. You would be graetful if someone did that for you.
- Forgive yourself if you struggle. It is normal to feel extreme emotions. And that’s perfectly okay. Also, nervousness can lead to headaches, nausea, weariness, sleeplessness, lack of appetite and more. These things will pass.
- Learn from this experience! Because of my mid-term move in Grade Two, I decided my children would not ever move schools mid-term. In the end, our children moved schools extremely rarely, and only ever between school years. So, what can you take away from your transition to help next time?
- Pray that God will sustain you. The good thing is that God is the same – yesterday, today and forever. He will be your rock when feeling unstable, your friend when feeling lonely and your peace in the turmoil. Let him love you through it.