I am going back to school. Well, I’m not. My son is starting secondary school. My old secondary school. And it feels like it’s me.
Yesterday evening I went to an introductory evening. My son has spent the day there already, so he didn’t think he needed to go. And my husband plays football on a Monday, so he didn’t think he needed to go either.
Well technically they didn’t. There was probably nothing my son hadn’t heard already and, much as my husband cares about the kids’ education, I am the one who cares in a practical sense. I’m better at it, apparently. I did well at school and worked hard. He didn’t. I am a school governor. I do all the kids’ homework with them. And deal with all the letters. So it’s my job.
Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to get a different memo from us. Or everyone else cared more than a man who wanted to play football and a boy who wanted to go to Scouts. Because I was the only Billy-no-mates there on my own. And I felt nervous and out-of-place.
We packed into the school hall and it was just the same – the curtains, the cladding on the wall, the lighting box. It felt quite emotional. While listening to the speeches, I was picturing myself on that stage behind those curtains starring in the school 6th form plays.
Everything else was different – the rest of the building, the uniform, the way they set the kids, the house system. But it all sounds great and I’m sure he will do well there. It’s just a shame I’m so nervous.
I left the hall in a crowd of people – mums, dad, kids, little brothers and sisters, parents who knew each other and sat together… I could see people I knew dotted around the place, but they were all happy with their whole families. Unlike me, who just felt like a complete weirdo.
Then I bumped into an old friend from school with his ex. Even they were together! Our boys had been friends at nursery, so we had a chat. Then I had a chat with another nursery mum. These are people I hadn’t seen for seven years! I hadn’t even really thought of my son as having friends at nursery, yet somehow talking to these people seemed more attractive than talking to parents I see every day but don’t actually talk to at our current school.
I went and garbled to the music teacher about whether my form for my son’s form for his violin lessons had arrived, a prefect tried to engage me in conversation about inter-house sport, music and drama, I bought a school tie and technology apron, embarrassingly getting down to 5ps to pay for them. I looked at the blazers, but there was no point looking too closely. What with having no child with me to try them on.
So I slunk off home. Billy-no-mates at the new school. Must try harder.