Column for 02/09/09
I woke up early. Outside the rain, which has been such a prominent part of this summer, pounded on the window and I decided that another five minutes under the duvet wouldn’t hurt.
When I finally surfaced the weather hadn’t improved; resigned to the fact I plodded down to the kitchen for my compulsory caffeine fix before putting the girls’ school lunches together. The mind-numbing routine of school mornings was upon us once again.
The rain kept falling as the girls had their breakfast and we checked and double checked that they had all the bags, books, pencil cases, lunches, water bottles and other paraphernalia that a new school year demands. So much for my recent prediction that the start of school would bring some long overdue sunshine. If anything it just started to rain harder.
After one last check to make sure they had everything we headed out of the house to find a flood forming outside our front gate. Just as the bus pulled up I grabbed my wellies and ferried the girls across the pooling rainwater so they could climb aboard with dry feet. I waved them a hasty goodbye and ran back indoors to dry out.
The first few days back at school call for a bit of re-adjustment for children and for parents. For them, having structure suddenly imposed upon them after the comparative freedom of the holidays must be a bit of a shock to the system; for us it’s the other way around: with the children in school every day our time is freed up, and we need to re-focus on using it more effectively. That can be easier said than done, and is likely take the best part of a week for things to settle back to normal.
For the children the anticipation of returning to school tends to be worse than the actual experience. The girls like school, and genuinely look forward to seeing all their friends again, but as the last few weeks of summer ebb away and the spectre of a defined daily routine looms they start to get a bit edgy. This year, though, they haven’t had much time to dwell on it. We’ve had people staying for most of August; the last batch only left this morning, half an hour or so before the girls’ school bus arrived. With six kids and four adults in the house things have been pretty frantic, and there hasn’t been much opportunity to ponder the fact they’d be going back to school this week.
Another thing that’s taken some of the sting out of going back to school this year is the fact that they’re not just starting a new school year, but going back to a brand new school. In March the pupils and teachers moved out into portacabins, and the builders moved in to the main school building. The whole place has been gutted, renovated and extended; after six months of hard work the pupils and teachers of our local national school now have a state of the art learning facility that any community would be proud of. In their eagerness to see their “new” school officially opened the girls practically ran onto the bus this morning — or at least would have if they could have traversed the flood on their own.
To be honest I think we’re all glad to be getting back to some semblance of normality after what’s been a very busy summer. While the kids revel in the freedom of the school holidays, by the end of August they’re ready for school, and a bit of structure does them no harm at all.
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