Back to school?

September 13, 2016

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.


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  • Polly Macleod September 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Hello DD, your post reminded me of when my eldest daughter was learning to drive and I would go out with her when her (more patient) father couldn’t. The very last time she asked me to go with her involved me getting very scared because she was too close to the edge of the road and heading for a ditch, I screamed stop, she slammed on the brakes and swerved even closer to the edge of the road, leaving us both in a state of shock!

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Oh, that sounds extremely familiar, Polly! I think we’ve been inches from that very same ditch, plus stalled at major roundabouts and generally taken several decades off my life! Hope your daughter has now passed and you didn’t suffer in vain! I am sure my daughter will be a great driver in the end (she’d better be) 🙂

  • janerowena September 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Beware of the eternal student. My son had completed two years of his degree, when he decided to change subject, much to our horror and our bank manager’s. He has just finished his first year at the age of 21. He went back today, ready to play Uncle to a new load of freshers, and minutes ago I received a fb message to say that his new younger flatmates arrived yesterday, all had hangovers and the house was already a tip! My how I laughed – I remember his Halls flatmates putting him on a rota because he was so messy! We forced him to take driving lessons as soon as he was 17, to get them out of the way. My daughter is just starting her 7th year of law. I mention all this because having two ‘children’ still studying is so expensive, and they do still need stationery, that their Christmas stockings are now full of folders, memory sticks, highlighters, pencils, rubbers, headphones, socks, underwear and all the sort of stuff that would once have been automatically bought before the start of term – but they are actually grateful for them!

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 19, 2016 at 11:46 am

      At the moment I think I’d rather love an eternal student … but I imagine that after seven years of law I’d be a lot less keen …I’d like to think that all this money lavished on education (and folders etc) will one day be recouped when the girls wheel me around in my bath chair … but they’ve already told me I’m going into a home the moment I show signs of decay. Sigh