I am of an age that can simultaneously recall mocking my elders for not being able to pass a thread through the eye of a large needle, and having the shame of now not being able to do the same myself. My daughter, from across the kitchen informed me that I had succeeded in my endeavour to thread the needle.
Family reading this will likely be overjoyed at the turn of events. I blame the strongly calcified water that I drink in Germany on my increasingly poor vision.
There are many things that while they seemed easy before, now seem like Herculean feats. Getting over the fact that there are ten eggs in the container rather than the expected dozen seems like a small thing, but it makes a big difference when you want to cook, or bake something, and you realize that your planning is off.
Going to school for the children, while a normal event, can be more arduous than before. The daughter that so clearly saw the needle finally being threaded is at a stage in life where the future is laid out before her. The school system begins the classroom streaming this year, and for many young children, and their parents, they are forced to cast their gaze to a wide horizon and imagine what they want to be when they grow up. The categories, levels, abilities and temperaments of the children (and to some initial extent, the parents) are all piled up and muddled through as career planning starts to get going. Of course, one can always change streams, or continue on with more schooling; it is the initial segregation of pupils into academic abilities that feels so different.
If I look back on my experience of grade 4 it is not a pretty picture. Even more scary is the idea that my abilities then would subject me to a certain destiny. While I can see some reasons and rational for streaming the children at this stage in life, it does go against the grain to think that we, no matter what age, are always growing. Surely, if we are not growing, we are likely to be dead.
Grade 4 was a terrible year. It must have been as I can remember it. I recall running away from school and having the police looking for me. I had a terrible, dictatorial, sadistic and torturous teacher. To think that that year would determine my placement in a future school…it just doesn’t really end well.
I’m happy to say, that my daughter doesn’t have the same feelings of her grade four teacher, but I still feel for her as we look at a big step in life. I hope that she can understand that it may seem like a huge stage in life (as it is for her, or anyone who is in that moment), but that in the grand scheme of things, it is pretty small. Small, but memorable; just like threading the needle.