We sat in the car nervous with anticipation, watching a stream of Disney themed backpacks bobble past on the backs of toddlers holding perfectly manicured hands.
“Um, Mummy we’re here. Why aren’t we going in?”
“Just waiting till the teachers are all here,” I murmured. I was, of course, lying through my teeth to my four year old, who was excitedly awaiting his first day of pre-school. Yes, sometimes parents lie for the greater good, or in this case because they are embarrassingly intimidated.
I haven’t really made any friends since we moved here a month ago. It’s been quite a change from owning a successful business to becoming a stay at home mum with a newborn and a pre-schooler. To be honest, I wasn’t sure we’d even send him to pre-school. After all, I’m staying at home, so we don’t need the help. But Jason is keen on Luke getting a good education. It’s why we moved here. So off to pre-school Luke goes, and both of us will need to learn how to make new friends.
My first conversation with a local, (my new neighbour), hadn’t gone well at all. I’d seen her gardening out the front and felt like I should say hello. As we walked across the street Luke called out to her.
“Are you doing the gardening? In those nice clothes?”
“Oh, yes, thank you little man, I am! Aren’t you kind. He has a good eye for fashion!” there was a veiled shrillness to her voice.
“Mummy you don’t wear clothes like that. Not even out to dinner.”
I smiled. “Yes, Honey.” She looked me up and down. I could see her keen eye for fashion agreed with him.
As I died a slow embarrassing social death he turned to me, insistent, (as four year olds tend to be), and said “You wear that green top with the paint splotches to garden in. And when you reach up high to trim the trees everyone can see your belly!”
Time to change subject.
“We just wanted to say hello, we’re new.”
“Oh, lovely! I’m Brooke.”
“Oh, hello Brooke! This is Luke. And I’m Marley.”
“Marley? Well. Lovely name.” She turned back to her pruning. “How do you spell that dear? Is it with an E-Y or two E’s?”
“An E-Y.” I got the distinct sense I was one E away from a stripper pole in my neighbour’s mind.
“Well, welcome to Snobsville!”
I was a little surprised at her candour. “Snobsville?”
“Yes! Straight North Of the Bridge. Don’t worry, it’s just an acronym, not a way of life!”
“Well, yes. You know. Not east, not…west.”
“Oh.” I’m pretty sure I saw a tumbleweed pass us by.
“So, where are you from?”
I didn’t want to tell her. In truth I didn’t really know how to respond. What was I? A WOP – West of Parramatta? “A few suburbs further out. We came here for the schools.”
“Oh, yes. The schools here are excellent. My Trenton just finished up at the local Grammar school. Such a rich experience to learn in.”
We have a local Grammar school? What’s local about a Grammar school?
“Oh, we were thinking of starting public, then we’ll see how we go.”
“Oh!” And a kindly, slightly embarrassed glance, (embarrassed for me, not her).
Crickets. Truth be known we did move here for the schools, and the potential, things going well, for the kids to go to a great private school eventually. But we’d promised each other when we decided to move here that we would start in the public system. I hate the idea that the kids could spend their lives completely sheltered within the surrounds of a private school, but the sale of Jason’s software license has left us a sizeable nest egg. He wants to spend it on education. I’m not entirely sure what I want to spend it on yet. Maybe shoes. Probably not. What would I do with that many pairs of thongs anyway?
The kindly glance was becoming increasingly condescending. She sighed. “Well, you really can’t go wrong with any of the schools in this area. Education is so important.” She turned back to her garden, probably thinking it had more potential than either of my children.
Which brings us back to the perfectly manicured hands at the pre-school. And the Disney princess back packs. And my fear of all things Snobbie, which seemed to be parading in front of my car in a sea of black suede boots, casual t-shirts, designer jeans and silk scarves. The Snobbie uniform, I suppose. (Some SNOBs donned the apparent sports uniform, which appears to be bright pink workout tops, bright white sneakers and Yoga pants. I have since learned that they are largely a brand called Lulu Lemon, which reminds me a bit of a packet of lollies I used to get from the corner shop after school.)
I steeled my inner SNOB and exhaled.
Straight North? I’m not sure I belong here at all.
“Time to go!”
Well, at least my inner NOB was ready.