You can tell by the money in my purse that term has started again. I don’t mean that it’s considerably lighter after the painful pre-school shopping – though it is. (Three pairs of black leather shoes, three pairs of trainers, variously sizes 2, 6 and 10, since you ask. And, yes, I cried at the till.)
No, it’s the fact that I’m hoarding change again. During the term time, I’ll never give anyone the right change. I’ll say “sorry, I’ve nothing smaller,” even though it’s clinkingly obviously a lie. I need two lots of £3 ready every morning. 30 pound coins – or equivalent – every week.
Boy Two, mercifully, doesn’t need dinner money yet. But there’s usually something else requiring a pound or two every week for him.
Now my purse has started to gather coins as the Boys went back to school on Thursday.
Some mothers greet this with cartwheels and gin-based celebrations as if they’ve been trapped in a long dark softplay session of the soul for the past six weeks. And I suppose if I’d been faced with having to entertain the board and bratty for endless rain-soaked days I might feel that way. Especially if there wasn’t much money to spare and I had other things to do too.
Luckily for all of us, that’s not our lot. We had a fabulous break in Holland before Boys One and Two went to see their dad, and Boy Three split his time between after-school-but-all-day and an exploration of the theme parks of Wales with his dad. In a blink it was all over – one expensive and tense morning shopping and then the school bell rang and they were gone.
It’s tough for the first-timers. Not the kids – they don’t care. The parents. Only today, a colleague related the ordeal of waving their darling off for the first time, all stiff blazer, leaving them tearful in the playground. It’s true, I can remember the heart heart of leading your soft-skinned, vulnerable baby from the safety of your nest into the world of cruelty, bullies, jotters, skinned knees, disappointments, headlice and puddings with custard. Life would never be the same. Time was passing.
And so it is. A year ago Boy Three was my final baby to take his place on the tiny chairs of the primary one classroom. Gulp. He’s already done a seventh of his primary education – a fifteenth of all his schooling. And here we are again, all set for another year, another term.
This term is the one that begins with one sandalled foot still in summer and ends with the darkness of solstice and twinkle of tinsel. I suppose that’s the thing, it’s the slither through the year marked out by homework and exams and minor classroom dramas that makes me ever so slightly a little sad.
It’s probably because I’m very old in school-mum years (Boy One started primary one in 2004) that it all rolls round faster each year. New term, first colds, September weekend, Halloween, Bonfire Night, half term, first snow, first snow melts, second colds, Christmas carols, end of term tests, nativity plays, end of term, phew, holiday colds.
But it’s not bad. Not at all. Loathe to admit it, all three Boys are happy in their classes, we have good schools, the first virus hasn’t developed yet and I have a purse full of pound coins. Happy new term.