So far this week, it feels as if I have mainly been putting my children into large vehicles and waving them goodbye.
It’s the week of the Year 6 trip to the Isle of Wight – that long-awaited icon of the last gasp of primary school (and a celebration of the end of SATs). Every year we have watched the Year 6 parents wave and smile bravely as they put their children on the coach, and each year someone cries (it’s never a child). Now it’s our turn.
It was obvious who was going to cry this time. We English mums have the maternal instincts of a dead fish next to the warm caring Greek mothers at the girls’ school. I started teasing some of them in advance, to compensate for my own lack of emotion. (I was sent to boarding school. Enough said.)
The Redster was very brave. She only showed signs of nerves as we were getting to the school, aggravated by the sight – suddenly as we turned the corner – of the big blue shiny coach parked in the playground. Then her friends began turning up and the nerves vanished. There was a bit of a carnival atmosphere among the gathering parents, and when one father was named and shamed for not bringing his son a pack lunch – ‘I’ll get it now! Five minutes!’ he said over his shoulder as he sprinted to M&S – we all laughed at him (with relief that it wasn’t us).
The pack lunch was the last thing to board the bus and we all waved desperately at our children and began following it rather pointlessly out of the playground. They’re not allowed to take mobile phones and there will be no contact, except a postcard written on the first night, until Friday at 4pm when the coach returns. I was absolutely fine, holding it all together, until I saw one of the Greek mums (her only child was on the bus) burst into tears.
Immediately another Greek mum pounced on me. ‘I saw your lip wobble!’ she shouted.
We were allowed to send some letters with the teachers for the children to read in the evenings, so the Redster should have read her second limerick by now…
Meanwhile, the Cutester was facing the school run on her own (she and her sister have been getting the bus without me for months).
‘Don’t worry, I’ll come with you on the bus to school while the Redster is away,’ I told her.
‘No. I want to go on my own,’ she said.
She did, too. She suffered me to walk her to the bus stop, and listened to very repetitive instructions about how to cross the one road at the other end, then the bus turned up and she hopped on it.
I’ll probably get arrested.
Meanwhile, it’s okay because of all the people she told at school, not one of them believed her.