Monday, 16 July 2012

A Wonderful Weekend, and the Season of Last Times

Am in nostalgic mood after a weekend in Penrith at the RNA Conference, where I met up with a whole  lot of truly lovely people - some of whom were old friends, others whom I was thrilled to be meeting for the first time. (That sentence is so grammatically correct it hurts.) Last year was my first so I'm still a Conference New Girl, but already it's become a highlight of my year. Where else would you be given free books and chocolate, educated, entertained, fed, motivated, inspired, hugged, and made to laugh and cry*? A ginormous thank you to all concerned for a fantastic weekend

(*yes, Julie Cohen, I'm talking to you!)

So, already feeling a bit emotionally brim-full, I've come back to a week of saying goodbye. On Thursday I'll be doing the school run for the very last time after doing the same route with daughters in varying numbers and of varying sizes since the last Millennium (September 1999, to be exact.) The Big School is within walkable distance of home, which is good news for the planet and our petrol budget, but I'm going to miss driving through the Cheshire countryside with the mist lying in veils over the fields, the cows telling us (through the medium of bovine body language) what the weather is going to be like, and the trees marking out the stages of the year (through the medium of Leaf). I'm also going to miss the school itself, and the fabulous people associated with it, who've taught each of my children to read (Number One on my list of Essential Lifeskills), taken them for their first nights away from home, looked after them when they've been sick, told them off when they've been naughty and generally made up for our parental shortcomings.



They've been pretty idyllic years. I loved the small (non-iron) uniforms and the handmade Mothers Day cards, with their unguarded, from-the-heart messages (You are the best mummy in the hole world. I love you millions). I absolutely adored the Christmas plays and summer fairs (where I campaigned tirelessly, tirelessly I tell you, to be allowed to serve Pimms alongside the traditional tea and coffee) and harvest festivals and, although I grumbled at the time, now I think I even liked sitting on a chair seat half the size of my bottom to watch them. I loved the parents evenings that consisted of smirking over the things they'd written in their 'News and Stories' book followed by a quick debrief with the teacher. I loved the way they always came out of the classroom smiling, and chatted all the way home about stuff that had happened that day. The teenage years are exciting and bring many advantages, but you need the skill of an Enigma Code-breaker and the cunning of Hercule Poirot to find out a fraction of what they used to happily impart from the back seat of the car.

Since the start of the school year in September I've found myself secretly and sadly counting down the Last Times: last Christmas play, last school trip, last Easter Bunny Drive. The past couple of weeks have brought last sports day, last Performing Arts Club play, last summer fair, and now we're down to last Monday and the final few grains of sand in the glass of the Primary Years. Must NOT weep too loudly and messily during the Leavers' Assembly and embarrass poor Daughter #3...

(Plenty of time for that when she gets to High School.)



12 comments:

Toni Sands said...

Such lovely memories, India - both of conference and your children's early schooldays.

TashNz said...

Hi India, I know exactly what you're saying. When my eldest left primary school to move onto intermediate my therapy to myself was making a montage of pics into a video and setting it to music (I think it was Mariah Carey's You'll Always be my Baby) on the Picasa program... it covered her first 6 years at school... it teared me up several times but it made me feel better and welcome the next chapter in her life :)

Kate Hewitt said...

Oh India, what a lovely post, and what a bittersweet time! With a three year old still at home those last days seem far-off for me but I know I will weep when they do at last arrive. Enjoy your last Tuesday...

Annie West said...

India, I know what you mean. Those years are so precious. But it's nice to know that there are plenty of other firsts to come that will make you smile. My children are older but there's still a lot to enjoy.

India said...

*sniffing* Thank you all for being so kind! Toni, thanks so much for dropping by - I'm not usually such a drip! (That might be a bit of a lie, actually...)

Tash, that is an absolutely lovely thing to have done. My middle daughter is a computer genius, so I might get her to set me up and show me how to do it as we have squillions of photos of sports days past, with each of them wearing the same t-shirts down through the years, and nativity plays where the cuteness factor used to be off the scale. As for music, I think it would have to be Queen's 'Days of Our Lives.' Heard it on the radio in the car the other day. Instant blubbing (obviously!)

Kate, it's such a lovely time that the thing to do is really keep one eye on its fleetingness. Seal little images and memories away in your head to marvel at during the years of hormones and crop tops!

Annie, you are SO RIGHT and it's really good to think of the exciting times ahead. I think we've just been through a particularly lovely phase where we've had the best of both worlds - great older girls (who can babysit and help out at home - in theory anyway) and a 'baby' one who's kept us in touch with the world of the early years! But the aim of the parenting game is to watch them grow and let them go, and I'm lucky to be able to do that. When I met you and Trish I was so struck by your closeness to your lovely almost-grown kids and that really gives me something to aspire to as mine reach the same stage. Thanks for the hand-holding!

Sharon Kendrick said...

Oh, WHAT a brilliant phrase....*the medium of bovine body language*
A moo(t) point!
xx

India said...

Snurk. The cows have been doing an awful lot of lying down lately. Wonder if they'll get up when the jet stream moves? I won't be driving past to find out! *starts wailing again*

Sarah Morgan said...

India, I echo everything you're saying (and as usual you put it so eloquently) and feel everything you're feeling.
xxxxx

Sarah Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
India said...

Thank you Sarah! Steeling myself for Actual Last Day now. Am thinking valium might be necessary... xxx

(Sorry - your comment came through twice for some reason so I deleted one. Looks like I'm censoring you!)

Kate Hardy said...

Oh, bless, India. As you know, I'm in the same boat. And I did cry in the Y6 show this week, when the whole year sang 'Rule the World' and there was a slideshow of them all with various activities - all having fun while they were learning. (Don't think I was the only one, either!) Here's to our babies moving on to the next stage and having a wonderful time (and we are SO going to have a glass of wine together to toast them in September. Or ice cream. Or both) xxx

India said...

Kate, it was the past and present photos that got me too, and the singing! I love the idea of toasting them as they start this next phase in September. It's all good (and it's good to be going through it together...)