Tuesday 3 July 2018

School packs, small chairs and naked photo bombing...

So it’s happening.

My youngest is going to school in September.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a total surprise.

I didn’t wake up this morning and think, ‘fuck, I forgot to fill out the forms.’

But it has crept up on me a bit.

I don’t work on Fridays and the day that my son and I spend together whilst my eldest is at school has become quite precious.

He’s good company.

We went to a lido with friends last Friday. It was an absolute scorcher and after running around in the fountains for a while he spotted the big lane swimming pool, divided from the children’s area with a Perspex fence.

Too much info?

Just bear with me.

Uncomfortable in his all-in-one swimming suit, he whipped it off.

(I checked the label as he stripped off as we’ve had it for a while, turns out it’s for 12-18 month olds so no wonder it was a bit snug as he’s now four and a half.)

He went to investigate the big pool.

Unfortunately at that moment, a class from the neighbouring secondary school also turned up to celebrate the end of their GCSE’s.

Coordinated by one of their teachers, they stood on the side of the pool and doing their best ‘American-Pie-esque’ impression, all the students jumped in with their school uniforms on as the staff took pictures.

One for the school album.

That is until they zoom in and see there’s a delighted naked boy and his best friend pressed up against the transparent fence right in the middle of their picture.

But those days are soon to end.

I went to pick up his pack from the school with all the new starter information.

It hadn’t dawned on me that it would be a big deal.

Nancy’s at school.

She loves it.

She’s got all her buddies, and some weekends is genuinely disappointed when she realises she’s got to spend the day with her family instead of at school.

So this is just going to be the same, right?

We sat on tiny school chairs in the hall listening to all the practical stuff.

The uniforms.

The lunches.

The impossible-to-navigate-as-a-working-family settling in dates, when you drop your child off for about 4 minutes at the school for the first two weeks and then have to somehow fit a working day around that.

I was prepared for that.

Expecting it almost, unlike some of the parents of first time school children who looked understandably anxious.

I was waiting to finish, to meet the teachers and then catch the second half of the England game.

But then it happened.

The head teacher read out a poem, Dear Teacher*, about your child starting school.

The concerns you may have about who is going to look after them, play with them, to help them if they’re worried, to change their clothes if they’re dirty, to dry their tears when they cry.

And I could feel it bubbling up.

I tried to swallow it back down.

But then she read the final verse:

I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away, 
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.

And that was it.


It wasn’t an elegant cry, or a weep.

It was a proper shoulder-shaking, wipe your nose on your sleeve full on beal.

How had I not realised?

In a couple of months the little boy who’s favourite thing at the minute is to dance around the front room with me to 80s Heart FM is going to be starting a whole new chapter of his life.

And once he’s started.

That’s it.

Two children at school.

They’re off.

They’ve both on their next adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to keep him back for a year and attempt to home school him with my poor grasp on geography, understanding of the natural world or lack of all round patience.

But my best little buddy is not going to be hanging out with me as much soon.

It’s the end of an era.

And let’s face it, it’s not as much fun to dance around in the front room to Bros on your own.

* you can find the full poem and response from a teacher here. Tissues at the ready.