At the time of writing this, I am just home from doing the last ever everyday school run. Yes, finally, school’s out forever.
It’s a point in life I’ve been both longing for and dreading with equal measure for almost two decades and I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry; so I’m doing a bit of both at the moment.
I suppose as far as school runs go, today’s was more eventful than normal. As the Sixth Formers were all leaving today, there was something of a de-mob happy atmosphere around the school grounds.
Evidence of schoolboy pranks were everywhere. Burst water balloons; deployed stink bombs; school ties attached to car aerials; on the pavement a scattering of flour and broken eggs that had started to turn into batter in the rain; boys arriving with supersoakers under their arms and waterpistols in their blazer pockets and an actual tractor with R plates sitting in the School Principal’s reserved parking space.
They may have their dreaded A Levels looming, but these guys were determined to go out with a bang, that’s for sure.
As I dropped Finn off for the last time, it occurred to me that this wasn’t just an important rite of passage for him, but it was one for me too. Since becoming a single parent 12 years ago, when he was in P2 and his big brother was in P6, I’d had to organise my entire life around their school timetable.
With no family in this country to help out with childcare and no-one else to rely on, I’d realised early on that working for myself, from home, was my only option because I needed to be nearby. This fact was proven time and time again over the years in so many different ways, like being on-call 24/7...
Text: Mum can you bring my rugby boots, they’re in my bedroom?
Answerphone: Hi mum I’m feeling crap can you come and get me?
Text: I 4got to collect any money for the sponsored walk, can you bring me ten quid in change in an envelope so it looks like I collected it?
Text: School finishes early today. Come at 1. ps. Need to be back at school @ 4.30 for rehearsals.
Phone: Mum I forgot to say there’s a cake sale today can you bring some buns preferably home-made?
Text: Can u bring rugby boots.
Text: Left homework in car. COME BACK ASAP!!
Text: Adam’s ill and his mums at work can you poss come and take him to his gran’s? I said you would :/
So yes you could say I’ve had my work cut out being a stay-at-home mum and those regular minor-emergency call-outs are a part of it I really won’t miss.
Then, of course, there’s all the behind-the-scenes work that parents have to do, too. The incessant scrubbing of games kits; the match cheering every Saturday; the uniform washing every Sunday; sewing patches on worn-out knees; searching for lost buttons and fixing torn hems; the countless packed lunches (no nuts allowed); all the homework checking and revision testing and line rehearsing and costume making and cake baking and book-backing and all the ticket selling and bring-and-buying...
Nevertheless, now that my work here is almost done and son number two is almost fledged, I think I would give anything to see those two wee cherubic faces running towards me, arms outstretched, in the school playground again. Or for one of them to be sitting cuddled up to me on the sofa, reciting the alphabet or attempting to read out loud for the first time.
As I sat there, reflecting on two childhoods that had passed by in a heartbeat, my phone buzzed. It was Finn.
Text: Being sent home early. Teachers annoyed at eggs etc LOL so told every1 they can come 2 ours 4 lunch hope u don’t mind? :)