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The Seismic Shift

August 24, 2010

This week it’s back to school for Fourteen and Eleven.

Oh lordy, now we’re talking.  All the other parents of school-aged children will appreciate what that means.  Gone is the idyllically late getting-up time of 7.30 in order to make it into work for 8.45.  There will be things to do and prepare and this includes helping Eleven along with his morning ritual.  By that I mean chivvy him along when he stops to redesign one of his Geomags creations 2 minutes before the bus is due and he hasn’t even got his shoes on or cleaned his teeth, let alone walked to the bus stop.

On top of that, there are things like lunch box preparations, clothes needing to be ironed, the store cupboard to be stocked with mini apple juice boxes and a plentiful supply of individually wrapped waffles and part-baked rolls to be ever-present.  Not only that, but I must, I mean really must buy some new clothes for Eleven.  His current wardrobe extends to too-short trousers and T-shirts that he has had for two years or so.  The shoe situation is even worse.  School requires two pairs of sports shoes – one for indoor activities and for one outside activities (keep them separate so as not to sully the beautiful floors in their two enormous sports halls with something as unsavoury as mud or wet stuff ).  During the school holidays when his (totally inadequate and overpriced) canvas shoes of a certain stellar brand were discarded for being too small, his two pairs of trainers have become his regular footwear of choice whenever we are going anywhere that requires a lot of walking or bike riding.  Not only has the indoor pair become totally sullied but he informed me last week that all four shoes are too small.

A bigger shock for me, though, is the fact that Eleven is going to be starting Big School.  Not such a big deal, I would have thought, going by our experience with Fourteen but then she is a girl and the elder of the two and well, just more mature, sensible and sorted.  When she started secondary, the transition was barely noticeable, in that I never had any doubts about her ability to cope or get herself home or deal with anything that may come her way.  A false sense of security perhaps, created by her apparent cool-headedness and practical approach. We were blissfully unaware, however, that she would turn into a young woman overnight.  She went to bed on that first evening the little girl who had grown up with us and woke up the following morning a totally independent teenager.  Luckily for us, three years down the line she still has not acquired the concomitant attitude.  Frankly, I cannot see this happening in quite such a heart-stoppingly sudden way with Eleven.  I don’t even trust him to cross the main road on his own yet, let alone not accept lifts from strangers or be lured somewhere awful by the offer of some sticky sweets.

Perhaps I’m an over-anxious mother looking forlornly at my last baby who is about to take his first steps out of the house and into his own independent world.  No doubt he will excel and I will wonder how I could ever have doubted that he would be hot on his sister’s heels.  It’s just that from this side of the school holidays, I cannot see it.  Ask me in a month.

The other enormous culture shock will be Fourteen’s return to a normal sleeping schedule.  At the the moment she is semi-nocturnal, rising around mid-day and going to bed around 1.00 a.m.  Her bedroom, dubbed The Lair, is in a constant twilight state, with the curtains drawn and the bed unmade.  She would rather have the light on than throw open the curtains and let the sunshine stream in.  Not that we’ve had much of that this month anyway….  No longer will she have breakfast at lunchtime, followed by dinner at 7.00 p.m. and a bedtime snack at midnight.  Thank goodness.  The quantity of sugary breakfast cereal eaten at all sorts of odd times of day has increased ten-fold these holidays.  Terribly unhealthy.  I’m saddened that the summer holidays are nearly over and at the same time I am anticipating the return to some sort of normal routine.   Although the summer seems to have been exceptionally short this time around, the school holidays seem to have been interminable.

Today I took eleven to Glowgolf at the beach, an indoor mini-golf played in the semi darkness where all accessories are neon-coloured and glow under the UV lighting.  Perfect for today’s crappy grey weather, although it was extremely humid and warm today, which led to a suffocating indoor second round.  We were given glo-bracelets and allowed to choose the colour of our balls.  It was surprisingly good fun.  It’s amazing really, when you think about it, the activities in which we will participate in order to entertain our offspring when the weather is bad and all of their friends are away.

All of this fun, though, is not sufficiently distracting to camouflage a certain churning I feel deep in my stomach where pre-interview nerves reside and it’s all to do with the start of term.  I know that we are coming to the very end of something and the whole dynamic of our family is on the verge of big change.  Something intangible and a little nebulous but nevertheless very definite is hovering just out of sight over the horizon.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 11:25 am

    Hey there. Just visiting from the Mona Lisa Project where I found your blog.
    I read this partially with my fingers in my ears going *la la la la la* truth be told! My daughter starts Reception on Monday and my son moves into Year 3 and I don’t want the middle school years to come!
    I’m just going to enjoy this time as much as I can before I have to start using words like ‘1am’ and ‘the lair’!

    • purplejake permalink*
      September 3, 2010 7:00 pm

      As a regular reader of Sticky Fingers, I often feel nostalgic for my two teeny ones: the chubby little girl with golden ringlets and sausages for fingers and the skinny little boy with enormous green eyes and freckles. They both moved out a while a go and were replaced by a beautiful almost-fifteen year old who gets paid to babysit other people’s little monkeys and a cute and quirky eleven year old who yesterday taught his granny how to use her mobile as a camera.
      I mourn my absent toddlers but at the same time, every new stage is a source of wonder and amazement!

  2. September 3, 2010 11:41 am

    Two of mine went back to school yesterday and the other two go back on Monday so you have a two week jump on me there. The summer hols are toooo long!!

    In bed until midday? I can’t get my eldest to stay in bed beyond 6.30am!! I desperately need a lie in. 🙂

    BTW Mentioned you on my site today 🙂

    • purplejake permalink*
      September 3, 2010 7:06 pm

      I bet if you did get the chance for a lie in, your body is so un-used to it that you wouldn’t be able to sleep past 6.30 anyway!
      I’ve seen the link – fabulous, thank you! I’m going to do something Mona Lisa-ish here soon (just waiting for the creative juices to get flowing) – watch this space……

  3. Scousette permalink
    September 15, 2010 12:10 pm

    Wait ’til they move out to university or to travel the world! You could always have another child and start again from the beginning?! Just a suggestion.

    I’m more than a little disturbed by Fourteen’s eating and sleeping pattern. Though perfectly acceptable during teenage years, perhaps not so for someone twice her age. The difference, I suppose, is that my cereal at least pretends to be healthy and I have to get up around 7am for work no matter how late it is when I retreat to my lair.

    Let us know how the shopping goes. Take a tip from my parents and buy clothes two sizes too big. He might look baggy now but they’ll fit until he’s at college! It doesn’t work with shoes though, unfortunately.

    • purplejake permalink*
      September 15, 2010 5:02 pm

      Ha ha, Scousette, you did make me laugh with your suggestion re clothes that last until he goes off to college, although I’m hoping that he’ll have grown out of the zombie T-shirt by then!! (I’m going to get him to model “that face” for you on Monday….)


  1. Mona Lisa Million: Friday 17 September 2010 | Mister Good Guy

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