It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, around 5, Mum’s in the kitchen cooking a chicken roast. Every now and then a waft of chickeny goodness wends its way into the lounge room where you sit watching the latest episode of Doctor Who. And then it hits you. That sudden surge of nausea in the pit of your stomach and a wave of stark reality. Bollocks, school tomorrow. The Boomtown Rats were right, nobody likes Mondays but especially kids.
As the summer school holidays draw to a close, I am frequently reminded of those feelings I experienced every Sunday afternoon. It’s even worse when you have to go back after the hols and even worse when you are starting a new school. As a freelance writer and primary carer for my two boys, my own feelings are more of elation. Don’t get me wrong I love my lads and we’ve had a great Summer together but I can’t help feeling that I’ve achieved nothing except spend money and get fat(ter). For me, it’s time to crack on, but for my youngest, I can see that wave of nausea and anxiety steadily building. He’s off to a new school and he is oh so nervous.
The build-up began as we started purchasing uniforms and other pieces of kit for his new school. Two moments, in particular, made him realise this sh*t is real. The first was a visit to the school uniform shop where among other things he had to try on his new battleship grey boater style hat. I think he looked well smart. He thought he looked well dork. He also thought ‘crikey, this is it’. Afterwards, heading back to the car, for the first time this holiday he stated ‘I’m really nervous’. To the credit of his older brother (who already attends the school), instead of taking this as the usual opportunity to stick the knife in, very gently assured him it was going to be fine and then added that he would love it. It’s a great school. I’ve heard the nervous phrase pretty much every day since.
Yesterday, was the second moment. Buying school shoes. You see, the youngest has been used to wearing sneakers for school, however, yesterday, we purchased the dreaded black school shoe with laces. Parading around the shop in his boardies with a pair of traditional school shoes on his feet was quietly amusing but I could see the unease on his face. He now knows that next week it will all be very real.
Next Tuesday is D-Day. I’m sure on Monday night he will be experiencing those very same feelings I had as a young boy in the pre-digital age. He will wake up a bag of nerves and anxiety on Tuesday morning. His big brother will either be good cop/bad cop. We will get through a hurried breakfast and then he will endure this weird tradition from my wife’s side of the family have of throwing shoes at the poor victim while they run down the pathway (don’t ask) and then we will be off to new school. That drive will probably feel like an eternity and when we finally walk into school, he would have hit critical angst. But, knowing my little man, he’ll be absolutely fine. He’s been desperate to go to this school for ages. As soon as we say goodbye, its game on and I know the anxiety will dissipate and he’ll embrace all that is around him – until the end of the next school holidays when he will endure those feelings again and again and again. In fact, he will have those feelings every time he starts a new job or goes on that first date or sits an important exam. It’s a life lesson and the education never stops.