The alarm went off just before 6 a.m. this morning heralding the start of a new week and a new school year. It was dark outside as I stumbled to the bathroom to shave off my three day beard and attempt to look remotely human before battling through hordes of bag wielding hatchlings in a vain quest to secure a seat on the Belfast train. No more leisurely commutes with the carriage to myself.
When I was a teenager, back when Queen Victoria sat on the throne, I used to dread going back to school. I hated the place and, even now, several decades later, I still get an uneasy feeling in my stomach at this time of year. There is a change in the air, the temperature drops a few degrees and a general air of gloominess prevails. My memories of the Northern Irish grammar school system are not fond ones.
Which makes me eternally grateful our three hatchlings are made of sterner stuff. Adam and Rebecca announced yesterday that they were looking forward to going back. Adam is entering 6th Lower, having passed his GCSE exams. He now starts ‘A’ levels in History and Geography combined with a B Tec. Diploma in Travel and Tourism. Turns out he’s got brains to burn as well as being a star on the rugby pitch.
Rebecca is entering 2nd year at Junior High school. She took to her new school last year like a duck to water, allaying any concerns we had. She has worked hard in class and made lots of new friends. She is joining the local U15 girls football squad this evening, an event she is very excited about. Last night she compared returning to school as being similar to Christmas. My jaw dropped in astonishment but she was deadly serious.
Of our trio, Hannah is probably the least impressed at the return. She would much rather be spending the morning in bed, surfing social media and listening to her beloved Shawn Mendes. We know though, from experience, that when she gets into the swing of things she will be fine. Hannah can light up a room with her smile and makes new friends whenever she goes. She also has a new Drama group to look forward to on Thursday evenings.
Fionnuala is rejoicing at getting rid of us all at last. She will be super busy of course and if I attempted to type out what she does in an average week then I’d still be typing this post at midnight. She runs the household like a well oiled machine, keeping us all organised and getting us where we need to be without looking as if we’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. She holds the family together.
I’m glad the kids haven’t turned out like me, the awkward, nervous, geeky teenager who turned into a….well….awkward, nervous, geeky adult. I’m amazed by their confidence and relaxed attitude towards an event that still sends chills up and down my spine. Thankfully I’m not quite as weird about returning to work after the weekend break. Although I still fret every time I check my diary to see what the days ahead hold.
So we dive into the year ahead. Time is passing so quickly. Our little Hannah is entering 5th Year. I’m proud of them all as they reluctantly pose for the annual ‘back to school’ photo in new uniforms. Our children are our greatest achievements, our most precious commodities. In another few years, these photos will be a thing of the past. I’ll hang onto them for as long as I can, regardless of the ‘back to school’ jitters.