I've been rather quiet, deliberately, about Eve's progression into "proper" primary school. The options for schooling in HK basically fall into two categories 1) local schools - taught almost entirely in Cantonese and 2) hugely oversubscribed international schools to whom you mortgage your life and your soul in order to get a place. Of the 450 pupils who applied for 80 places at one international school, Eve was one of the lucky few who got in. I'd like to think it was down to her innate excellence but it may have helped that the teacher who interviewed her goes to our church (so Eve was completely at ease with her during the interview) and me knowing a Governor of the school probably didn't hurt either. You do what it takes, however much you believe you shouldn't have to!
Eve, of course, trotted off to school on the school bus on the first day with no problem at all and has settled right in. I, however, have not.
As I have mentioned before, expat women in HK who have children tend not to work. International schools have clearly taken this as a given for all Mums and every single school related event is in the middle of the work day. I had taken 3 days off before Eve even started school (parents welcome picnic, orientation morning, first introductory day). When one of the other Mums organised both a coffee morning and a playdate for the kids within the first week I completely lost the plot and told Mark that he had to take time off for the playdate - it helped that I was on a business trip and not even in the country. To his credit he took the morning off. Other than getting lost and having nothing in common with any of the Mums (welcome to my world darling - just because I share their gender I don't share much else), he had a fine time and his overall assessment was that they were "wearing a lot of make-up, all rather high maintenance". Still, being part of Eve's school community is important to me and I was feeling lonely and, yes, guilty, about not being able to get involved.
Inspiration came after the coffee morning and playdate emails. When I got them I was relatively polite and apologised for working full time and said my husband would try to come. Another Mum was far less polite and said that as she worked full time and asked whether they could arrange something she could actually attend. Another Mum just replied, simply saying "I work, sorry". Taking the bull by the horns I emailed them both and asked if they fancied lunch in Central where we all work. So, next Tuesday, we are off for our first working Mum's lunch. There is no working Mum's association at the school so I think I could have just found myself a new committee to organise...
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