It’s been very odd, this week, not having a child to prepare for the back-to-school frenzy. For years, our summers have been punctuated by searches for the perfect pencil case, the must-have new ink pen (such excitement when the girls were promoted from pencils to the wonders of a nib), the backpack that everyone else’s mother was very happy to cough up £100 for, the crucial school shoes with as high a heel as they could con me into …. This year, nothing really.
Yes, Child One is off to start a new chapter of her education, with a year at a French art school – lucky her – but, having crammed our Fiat 500 with all her worldly goods at the end of her year at uni, she finally realised that yes, she did actually have enough clothes. There’s nothing like a five hour motorway journey almost suffocating under a mixed load of your own belongings to ram that point home. She now says she might need a black T shirt at some point, but there’s been absolutely no rush to find one.
Meanwhile, Child Two is starting her gap year. Having had all kinds of adventures on her three-week interrail stint across Europe, most of which are not fit for my consumption (though I have seen things out of the corner of my eye on Facebook that I am quite glad I do not know about), she found herself, guess what, going back to school yesterday. As part of the preparation for her uni application, the school wants her to attend some extension lessons, which to me sounds like a brilliant idea, and to her sounds dangerously retrograde. And to do it all without the benefit of a new backpack and pencil case? Really?
Meanwhile, my last days with Child One before her French leave have been much enlivened by her quest to get her driving licence. She’s been doing intensive lessons, and I’ve been driving round with her whenever there’s a moment. We’ve had a lot of laughs – and some memorable (scary) moments. If your children are still at the new pencil case stage, treasure it while you can.