After months of stress, starting with AS levels, followed by visiting and applying for university, revising and doing A Levels, teen daughter has finally done her last exam and finished school forever.
We can ALL breath a sigh of relief as she throws away the piles of revision cards, bins the grey marl leisure wear she has lived in for the last four months, opens her curtains, tidies her bedroom and gets out and about to enjoy life. M.A.D has plans to for the spare room that has served as an art room for the past two years and I can’t wait to see my pale, worried, usually fun loving girl, laugh again.
Up until sixth form, I felt really lucky that both my kids had got through school with relatively little stress. Their cosy, slightly hippy (very hippy actually, I sometimes forget I live in Hackney) primary school was a loving, inclusive place that embraced all cultures and taught them to be emotionally intelligent as well as to read and write.
Their secondary school was at first a bit scary and opened all of our eyes to what people have to endure in life – an inner city comprehensive can be challenging for pupils and staff – but they enjoyed their time there and came out with good exam results and a group of friends that they will most certainly know for the rest of their lives.
Sixth form turned out to be something to be endured rather enjoyed, as a hectic social life conflicted with intense workloads and part time jobs. As a parent, sixth form can be challenging – try telling your 18 year old (adult?) to do their homework/revision/sketch book – but there is part of me that is sad I no longer have children at school.
As children grow up our contact with school decreases and as the cosy chats with other parents, play dates, school trips, sports days, plays and concerts disappear, there is a sense of loss, as there are fewer opportunities to meet their friends and be in touch with their daily lives.
School days are special times that inform who we are as adults and how we fit in to society. And it’s not just our children who learn and change. I developed an increased sense of community, more informed political views and a desire to give back as a result of my children’s time at school.
As I look back I’m glad I was able to go on all those school trips, organise year six camping trips (which I am informed still happen), become a school governor and attend all those small, but important landmarks in my kids lives. They were special times and we had lots of laughs and made great friends along the way.
So today as my daughter wakes up with a monumental hangover and a feeling of relief that it’s all over, I feel both happy and sad. Today is the first day of the rest of her life and we are free from the tyranny of term times and exams forever – but a tiny little bit of me is mourning the end of her childhood.
It seems like only yesterday I was welling up at the thought of leaving her in reception, but I have no doubt she will be fine, just as she was on that first day at school when she looked up from the sandpit and said to me confidently “you can go now mummy”.