This week mother-of-three Catherine Jones is saying goodbye to the summer holidays and preparing for a new school term. In this blog she talks about her hopes for the year ahead.
The youngest of our three children, Martha, starts in year 1 this week. And after the summer break, my immediate thoughts are practical. How on earth will we all manage to be out of the house before 8.30am? Where is the favourite Star Wars lunch box? Do the PE kits still fit?
I remember different feelings a year ago, when Martha began in reception. We had celebrated her 4th birthday just days before and now she was off to big school. She looked so small in her uniform, with her huge school bag and shiny new shoes. How would she react when we had to say goodbye at the door? Would the teacher allow her to keep hold of her cuddly monkey?
And the fears don’t go away. Will school restrict Martha’s curiosity and imagination? Will she make friends? Trying to support her and her big brother and sister as they come to the realisation that there are people in their class and the world who are very different to them.
I hope our children are learning that difference is a good thing. That we all have something to offer as part of God’s global family. They hear stories from CAFOD at childrens’ liturgy about life in other countries; we used CAFOD resources to research the year 5 project on Brazil and this month we’ll be getting the children from school to share messages of hope for refugees as part of a Lampedusa pilgrimage, as we try to respond as a parish to the crisis. I know that hearing first hand stories from refugees will help the children have greater understanding.
I also hope that through school and our chats at mealtimes Martha will grow not to just think ‘who is my neighbour?’ but ‘how can I be a good neighbour?’ To know that as Christians we have a duty to put our faith into action: to pray, to talk to others about why things are unfair, to use less water, eat less meat, write to our MP, raise money. To be good neighbours in our town, to the poorest who are far away and to our planet – our common home.
I wonder what sort of world Martha will grow up to see? My faith and being part of CAFOD bring me hope that together we can work to build a more just and peaceful world for our children.
For those of us in the privileged position of supporting children going back to school this week, may we be able to help them realise that they have a special part to play in transforming our world.