I attended After School Care almost every day of my primary school life. In Year 7 I rebelled a little and either rode my bike home, caught the bus, or delayed leaving my classroom long enough to make it slightly annoying to (I would imagine) my teacher, the ASC staff, and my (fee-paying) parents. But before then I was a complete regular.
Early on, my mum instituted a policy of me changing out of my school uniform as soon as possible after having my name marked off. This was embarrassing to me for three reasons, although the second I probably couldn’t have articulated for most of the time the policy was in force. (Again, later on I fought it, and since by that time we were content to chill instead of running around outside, it was allowed.) The first was that no-one else had to change. Everyone else’s parents were content for them to ruin their uniforms in the dust and the dirt. Secondly, the clothes I had to change into were daggy. They were play clothes and as such were not required (or so my mum thought) to possess any sort of fashionable qualities whatsoever. And thirdly … I had to run across one courtyard or the other and go to the toilets to get changed.
Now this might not seem so bad. The ASC room was slap in the middle of the school, with the Trannies*, 1s and 2s on one side, and the Year 3s and above on the other. I, for some reason, developed a massive fear of the toilets, and the upper school one in particular. No way would I go there, and naturally, for some time I didn’t have to. The junior one was bad enough, and I could cope, if I rushed and kept my time in there to the absolute minimum. But one day (I think when I was still in Year 2, so … why? I was still a little kid and should have been allowed to use the little kids’ toilet, am I right?) the boss of the After School Care laid down the law to me: “Why are you going to that one? You can use the big kids’ toilets from now on.” And that was it. I had to face the ghost (I think it was a ghost) of the upper school toilets every afternoon, until I either forgot about it or stopped changing out of my uniform, and I really couldn’t tell you which came first.
*Transition. The grade before One and after Preschool.
Two of the main games I remember from ASC were Poison Ball Against The Wall and Brandy. Poison Ball was from the era when we had young and energetic caregivers, who were quite happy to stand at the front of the stage and pelt us with balls until we’d all been hit, at which time we’d all come in again. I think the appeal was that we didn’t really have to do any work ourselves. Brandy, on the other had the attraction of being banned at school. No one had ever said it was banned outside of school hours though, and we took advantage. (Damn those adults getting wise to us, though.) Brandy – which it has only lately occurred to me may have actually started out named Brandings – is where you all run around a specified space, such as the big courtyard, and try to peg a tennis ball at your friends. Yes, it hurts.
As we got a bit older, as I mentioned, we settled down to indoor activities a bit. When I was in Year 6, my best ASC mate Patricia and I would rush (without appearing to rush – too cool for school, man) to the games cupboard after roll call to claim Monopoly for ourselves and whatever younger kids we felt like ripping off that day. This was freaking cutthroat finance, dude, and you had to be quick. We were not above distracting our competitors in order to let someone else roll the dice hurriedly to end the turn – and avoid paying what were often massive rent payments. We were also quite the little benefactresses, and would draw the attention of the really needy to a rent they may have been about to miss collecting. After all, you can’t beat up little kids if none of them come to play. We sound terrible, but I believe a lot of fun was had – and not just by us – and hey, at least we were practicing our maths skills.