Skip to main content

First Day Of School

 My little boy just started school last week, so I’ve been through the usual: going all mushy about how tiny he looks in his school uniform, standing at the school gate in tears, worrying about him being bullied, lonely, upset or overlooked by some crabby teacher. Will he get lost in the big school building and will other kids talk to him at break times? So I made some excuse to go into the school on day two, said I wanted to pay for some scheme or other that isn’t really due until Christmas, and I managed to catch hold of the school principal in the corridor. She knows me, I already have a child in the school, so I just mentioned that she should keep an eye on my little fella and be nice to him and all that.
I did feel a tad upset when she more or less told me to get over myself, but I suppose she has a point considering that this is his first day of secondary school, and he is thirteen after all. Thing is though, I never really had a cry when any of them started primary. They were four years old, which meant that my life had become preoccupied with an animated train engine, a loopy purple dinosaur surrounded by a bunch of very clean and Christian looking kids with big smiles and great singing voices, jigsaw puzzles, Lego, sturdily built books that could be thrown at you to read over again and again and again, and endless nursery rhymes about ten bloody sausages sizzling on a pan. The toilet always had a poo in it and every room in the house was destroyed with scribbly writing and strewn with toys. Yes, at age four I was damn happy to see those kids off to school. I think I stayed just long enough to shove him into the teacher’s arms and assure her he would stop screaming once I left. Then I went for coffee with real grown ups, watched a movie with real people doing grown up things and looked at the clean toilet a few times before going back to the school at 2pm to pick him up, pretending that I didn’t realise they got off at noon during the first week.

But secondary school, well its serious isn’t it? This is about your kid growing up, and the scary thing is that when they stop leaving poo in the toilet they also stop crying and telling you what’s wrong. Secondary school will determine their attitude towards the grown up world. Other grown ups will influence them and so will other kids.
What do you do when you’re sending your child to a place where all the things you’ve protected him from will be on offer? From religion classes to drug dealing, school can be a dangerous place.
I decided that the principal was right though, I’d have to get over myself, after all, isn’t this what I wanted, for my kid to grow up? On the way out I almost ran into a brand new VW Golf racing into the school grounds. The driver was wearing a school uniform and didn’t look much older than my son. I wondered should I go back into the school and tell him to be careful with his driving in case any of the first years are out in the car park, but I decided it mightn’t look great and I’d been warned by my little fella to behave myself so I went home instead and reminisced about the good old days of nursery rhymes and dinosaurs and poo, and yeah, I did, I had a little cry. 


Popular posts from this blog

A Packet of Solpadeine and a Lecture Please

Years ago I was a respectable lady married to a nice German doctor, and it was he who brought to my attention that in Germany you can only buy pain killers in a chemist and not in a petrol station, pub or supermarket and that there was not a chance in hell that you could ever buy a pain killer with codeine in it directly from a pharmacy, which in Ireland, you can - Solpadeine.
Then a friend of mine who is a pharmacist told me that Solpadeine was her best seller. So lucrative were the sales that she did not have enough room to store the stuff in her pharmacy. But that was also back in the time when I was respectable, and in the meantime the Solpadeine police seem to be out on patrol.
Now if you ask me, I think it's pure madness to sell substances with codeine in them over the counter at a pharmacy, and I'm also a bit iffy about buying paracetemol in the supermarket, given that any 13 year old can go in and stock up on a drug that is lethal in relatively small doses. But there a…

Letter to a Boy, who Died aged 18, by Suicide

Dear Tiernan,
I shouldn’t be writing you this letter. I should be hearing about you from my son, your childhood best friend. It should be about some course you are doing, or a plan that you all have to meet up. But that’s all gone. Now there’s just that awful day that you went missing. The day a boy was seen jumping off the bridge. Next time I saw you, you were in a coffin, your body, bashed up by the waves; bruised, broken, dead. The boy who told me ‘be nice to nerds, you’ll be working for them some day.’ The boy who I watched grow up, who I held great faith in. Dead at 18. And what’s left? The rest of us. Your inconsolable friend, his sister and his mother, travelling back to the West of Ireland for your funeral. Sitting in your home. Going into your bedroom and picking up your things. Yesterday this was your camera, these were your pyjama bottoms, that was your sketchbook. Now they feel strange to the touch. Relicts. And we, who never shut up, are silent. There are no words for ou…

The Naked German

I've just returned from an afternoon at the Spa in Karlsruhe. As it's a Wellness centre I decided it may help cure my cold turned chest infection turned ear infection (with a touch of man flu to go with it) before I defy doctor's orders and fly home tomorrow.
But you know how it is when you don't know your way around somewhere, you are always faced with the unexpected. So I began by walking in to the Wellness centre and saying 'A ticket for one please.' The perplexed Wellness money collector rolled her eyes to heaven. 'One what?' Ok, so there are numerous ways of feeling well and they all come at different prices. 'Erm, I've never been here before' I told her, so she gave me the most expensive deal and handed me a plastic card to get me through the stile. I put the ticket into the slot feeling very efficient and pushed ahead. The gate remained shut. People behind me laughed. The money collector politely shouted over to me that I had to wait …