#UGBlogWeek Day Four – #SchoolsMadeMeNoBetter really is #SchoolsMadeMeBetter otherwise where and how would I have made any friends?

I am better for my friends, which is why I can confidently say #SchoolsMadeMeBetter.

If I hadn’t gone to school at all – which was never an available option in my case, with my family background – then I would be a much less rounded character today because of the absence of friends.

I certainly wouldn’t be married to the superb mother of my children and the companion I am trying to keep by my side until we are really too old to walk unaided, and start to forget even the children’s names but recall each other’s nicknames.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because the experiences with children there helped guide the way I lived my life as a young, and now old, adult. Right from my primary school days when I grew very close and comfortable relationships with girls until some fellow young-uns convinced me that girls were generally irritating characters to be ignored, despised and deeply distrusted.

By the time I resumed talking to girls properly again I was bound to be as awkward as most of the other boys because that was who I had become. Hanging out with those boys, sharing jokes with them, telling and listening to stories, envying some of them and probably creating my own envy situations (I hope) changed me.

I picked up habits that I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. I learnt words we didn’t have at home. I saw pictures that didn’t exist in any of my relatives houses (in the open, at least). I watched movies that my parents would never have allowed my friends’ parents to watch.

Our days were different, man – we exchanged videotapes from house to house instead of downloading torrents. We didn’t have facebook, twitter and instagram to make friends with – we had to actually see people, walk up to them, and talk to them to establish whether we liked them or not and vice versa.

School was that place where you kicked around a plastic container in the absence of a ball, and after ten minutes found out who else liked soccer as much as you did. It was the place where you squatted in the dust to play dool with people whose names you didn’t know until the first time they beat you at the game, and then you asked them directly for their name.

We nicknamed our friends at school. We teased them mercilessly, many times bringing our closest friends to tears by ribbing and shelling them with abandon. But the tears rarely dropped (when everyone was watching) and before long we went back to laughter.

School was a great place to make friends because it put us together for hours on end with people whose character showed through quite clearly. There was no trolling, no loose ‘Likes’ and ‘Favourites’ and if somebody didn’t like you there was a specific place you went to punch things out.

And it also taught me that punching things out wasn’t always the best way of making friends or resolving issues between friends or even dropping friends.

#SchoolsMadeMeBetter at these relationship techniques so much so that whenever people said those “Your network is your net worth” comments I laughed out loud (using #NN).

What would my network have been without school? Nothing.