“How was your summer and how does she like the new teacher and how is he settling back in?”
The voices change but the questions are the same.
“They’re tired this week, I’m tired this week, how is it only Monday?”
Stopping at the corner for a conversation worth an hour – condensed into ten minutes. Machine gun chat, half-whispered chat, light look at the weather chat.
“Don’t worry, my youngest found change hard too. He’ll get there.”
School-gate solidarity, an I’ve-been-there smile, a you’re-not-alone promise.
“Don’t feel bad, they can’t do every activity, and sometimes they’re as well off just going home.”
Sympathetic words and empathetic shrugs.
“That must be hard, trying to get work done when the kids are there – let me know if you need a hand?”
“Sure pick her up whenever suits, there’s no rush on our side – leave her with us as long as you like.”
“I’ll walk them up for you if you’re rushing.”
Hands lent, children watched, relief flooding.
And although I didn’t miss the school lunches or the homework or the morning rush or the evening challenge, I think I missed this – the corner chats and the I-hear-ya smiles and the solidarity eye-rolls.
The camaraderie, the generosity, the sense that we’re all in this together, and the understanding that the greatest conspirators are those who are living it too.