They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace –
Christopher Robin went down with Alice…
A A Milne
July. August. September…
Even now, 11 years after I left any type of education, years for me end in July and start again in September. July – the end of term, the end of year, the end of school, of university, always the end; a time for reminiscing and reporting on the year and which always makes me nostalgic for exam halls, dust motes suspended on sunbeams through windows, the sound of tennis being played outside whilst I sweated at a desk. Forever more that combination takes me straight back to A levels, or to finals. (Sadly something else entirely takes me straight back to the end of law school as 7/7 happened the week after my last exam).
And after July, August, that strange dead time which always stretched out so invitingly and then disappeared in a haze of dirty feet mixed with the smell of damp wetsuits; the month we never learnt to spell. A month which was always full of promise and in the minds eye, always sunny. A month which spelled freedom and holidays until internships and summer jobs took over, and August became synonymous with sweating over a photocopier in an un-air-conditioned cupboard, earning £4.50 an hour and that new strange feeling of wondering whether this is what real life felt like.
And then September. New shoes, new pens, new haircut, new year. Sharper, more amber sunlight. Small talk and new friends and metaphorical clean slates in the form of a fresh pad of A4.
Just as certain as death and taxes, time marches on. Waits for no-one. And so it is that we stand on the brink of a new era. Brexit. Federer fading (can you tell I’m already missing Wimbledon). Political upheaval and change matched by something no less epoch like at home.
Pip starts school in September. And this time, I’m the parent.
It’s me ordering uniform, sewing name tapes, booking hair cuts. I can’t tell you how odd this feels and how, more than anything else, makes me feel like a proper parent. I’ve still got friends that I made at infant school, friendships that have lasted 30 years. I can quite clearly remember meeting those children, particularly the anecdote in that previous link. My parents are still good friends with some of those friends parents – the children Pip plays with from September could be in our lives forever.
I’m still only just getting my head around the adjustment to having children – it feels mind boggling that we’re also about to enter a system that we’ll be part of, a community we will be contributing to and a way of life that will dominate ours for the next 18 years. I will be almost be old by the time we don’t have a child at school, never mind middle-aged.
And yet, we’re ready. Maybe not physically, although the bits of uniform that has arrived so far looks great, but mentally. She’s been at nursery full time for 3 years, almost 2 of those at pre-school. She can write her name, and that of several of her classmates. She is curious, learns fast and is really ready to start learning to read properly. She can colour between the lines and do also sorts of simple maths problems. Ask her a big number and she says ten thousand, not twenty, and chatters away about her battery powered wings not working in the rain because they need to save energy. And she’s grown; shot up several inches over the past months and is definitely no longer a toddler. She’s long and thin and even her little round tummy has disappeared. Her face is bigger, more serious, and she says things like “everyone is afraid of something” to me, and watches little baby 2 for me whilst I go to the loo.
So for me, September is changing. Forever more, it will not just whisper of new beginnings but be tinged bittersweet. Every September will now remind me tangibly of what I am leaving behind; the curious heartbreaking emotion that is being a parent – delight in my children’s future and just a little grief for what we are leaving behind.
Thanks to George at Asda for inviting me to reminisce about my school days – this is not a sponsored post but I did receive some items of school uniform.