The end of the school year is alway manic: final assemblies, prize giving or such like, end of year parties or discos, sourcing the perfect thank you teachers present.
Besides the usual end of year chaos, there is the added ‘stress’ of the “Sayonara” parties. ( Sayonara is the Japanese word for good bye).
According to the headteacher at our children’s school, they have an average of 25-30% of families leaving each year. As we are coming to the end of our third year here, a lot of the people who are leaving are the people who arrived the same time as us. Friends we have made in our time here. Departing friends… It is only fitting that we should give them a send off to remember, so Sayonara parties are usually big. Think 50th birthday parties.
One of this year’s Sayonara parties involved dressing the departee in a beret, giving her a garland of garlic and a fake cigarette on a filter. (Any guesses where shes moving to???). They all proceeded out to supper, followed by that typical Japanese tradition of karaoke.
(Ok so this one was more like a hen party than a 50th, but you get my point.)
For one of the Mum’s at our school, that particular departee is the first of her three closest friends to be leaving.
That’s the challenge of being an expat. You make friends- and close friends faster and closer than normal, as your time together is brief. But it doesn’t change your feelings for them. Your emotions. Your sense of loss, as your life continues without them here.
The fun night out, that they aren’t part of, the birthday lunch they should be part of, the friend to lean on when your ……(insert family member) just becomes too much to cope with on your own.
They should be there. Part of it. But they’re not.
Because you know what’s coming, you try and cash in on every opportunity you can to spend with that friend. So if it means that you are out for lunch every day, so be it.
Karaoke- if that’s what you want to do, I’ll be there, just don’t expect me to sing…
Baseball match- ok.
Dressing up as a French maid- only because I am going to miss you dear friend.
The departing children sometimes have Sayonara parties too.
Add the parties, the lunches and the final catch ups to the usual end of school year list and things get truly manic. And I’m still staying…
How are those families that are leaving coping? The organising of a removals company, getting quotes, finding a new home to live in from afar, finding schools? It just keeps adding up.
End of school year chaos.
My turn will come and I’m not looking forward to it- but until then, I will embrace the chaos and enjoy every last minute that I have with my friends.
Till I see you again- SK, KD, JS, MT, LS, SP, LW, CJ