Graduating from Dutch Primary School

Dutch education is neatly divided into primary school (ages 4-12) and secondary school (ages 12-18). So there’s no in-between. The kids basically go to high school at age 12.

Now, I’m not usually one of those moms lamenting that they can’t just stay little.

But I admit that this whole school thing sort of threw me for a loop, hitting as it did (not uncoincidentally) squarely simultaneously with puberty. Yesterday she was a little girl. And today she’s a grown up young woman going off to high school in a couple of months.

It’s been just over two years since we moved to the Netherlands. For reference, this photo was taken a few months before we arrived here.

Cue Sunrise, Sunset and any number of other unabashedly sentimental songs about children growing up. But I’m trying not to let this post go in that direction, even though it seems to keep wanting to veer off course.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), I am enormously proud of my smart, capable, kind, confident daughter, pictured here with her wonderful teacher Esther.

It has been an amazing couple of years for Axa. She’s made great friends from all over the world, learned how to ride a bike in Amsterdam traffic and ride trams and busses all over the city, and discovered a love of writing and level of grammar nerdery that makes her mother get all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’m pretty sure she’s as adept at catching reptiles, amphibians, and other scaly, slimy creatures as ever, but she’s already looking ahead to using those skills to support her professional ambition to become a marine biologist.

They do love their traditions at Dutch schools and one of the traditions in group 8 (sixth grade) is to have a school musical. Axa’s class did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. All the kids did a fabulous job, and they suddenly looked so much older to me.  I think the fact that they are going off to different schools next year lent the whole thing a particular air of nostalgia, even in the moment. Or maybe it was just me.

For example, here is Axa having a conversation with Willy Wonka and looking ridiculously grown up–faux fur coat, Danielle Steele novel, and all.

At the actual graduation event a week or so later, each of the graduating kids got a chance to perform a presentation they’d made about themselves. Here’s Axa’s (mobile users click here):


Can you guess my favourite part? Yep! Her inspiring quote.

There are few things that could better describe this incredible person that only yesterday I was carrying around with me everywhere.

I can’t wait to see what she does next. Fly high, little sparrow!

What do you think?