It’s the last weekend before my kids go back to school. When I was a kid, this was the most dreaded weekend of the year. I loathed school, and that loathing was never more acute than after six weeks of summer holidays.
They say you can’t remember pain, but I very clearly remember the fear I felt the day before I started secondary school as a physical pain. I remember sitting at my nan’s house, spending the last few hours of freedom watching He-Man, dipping garibaldis in milky tea, and feeling my own time slipping away, knowing that soon it would belong to someone else.
For me, the absolute best thing about being an adult is that you don’t have to go back to school at the end of the summer holidays. Although, saying that, a part of me is still afraid that one day I will wake up and my whole adult life will have been a dream and that it will be a Tuesday and I will have double German followed by double maths.
There’s one redeeming thing about going back to school though: new stationery. Oh the pleasure of a new pencil case.
My 11-year-old starts at a new school this week, and he has a brand new orange pencil case stuffed with freshly sharpened pencils. It’s a thing of beauty. I am just a little bit envious of that pencil case.
I hope it gives him comfort over the first few days of his new school. The inside of a pencil case is like a little bit of home on your desk. Whatever trials and humiliations you endure in the classroom, there’s always the inside of your pencil case for safety.
My kid doesn’t seem nervous at all about starting, but maybe he holds everything inside the way I did. Do. Or maybe school just isn’t so scary anymore. At my school, you had to choose whether you got slaps on the bum with a plimsole or thwacks on the palm with a ruler when you were naughty. That’s unimaginable now. My kid will be in a brilliantly equipped special needs unit in a mainstream school, and all the students in it get their lessons on their iPads. It’ll be like lessons in Star Trek.
Maybe school is a much brighter, kinder place now than it was when I was a kid.
But then, maybe that means kids don’t enjoy summers the way I used to enjoy them.