I am one sad mother today: Spud has gone back to school. It’s not that I miss him; what I’m going to miss is the sound of no alarm clock in the mornings. Not that I get up late in the holidays – I can’t, I’m an early to bed early to rise kinda gal – but I like not waking up an hour before it’s due to go off, terrified that I’ll sleep so heavily I’ll sleep through it and Spud will be late for school and that will ruin his day his week his life and he won’t visit at Christmas and I’ll never see the grandchildren I don’t want.
Here he is, second left.
Incredibly, there was no drama: school mornings have always been a bit iffy with Spud. His first day back after Christmas 2004 lasted just two hours. I was called to collect him because he was so white they lost him when they handed out drawing paper, and he spent the week in bed. When he finally returned to school he was upset at being put on a table with a bunch of children he either disliked, who misbehaved, or who distracted him from his work. At the age of nine he took school very seriously. I had a word with his teacher and she moved him. One of the advantages of being an obliging volunteer parent in school (that was the week I removed excrement from children’s shoes) was that teachers felt obliged to accommodate me; not that I wouldn’t complain anyway, if my boys were unhappy at school. Or in their jobs, when they leave uni: you come and tell your Mum, son, and I’ll sort out those nasty customers/managers/villains/MPs.
I remember that school year quite vividly, paticularly Parent’s Evening. He was given a glowing report, telling us – you don’t mind me boasting? – how mature and responsible he was and that he was in the top sets for everything and that he had a fabulous sense of humour. One of his teachers had asked his class teacher to be sure to tell us that he was even funny in PE, although his class teacher wasn’t sure how. We asked him about it afterwards and the only thing he could think of was that ‘I usually trump loudly when I do roly-polies.’
He was such a cutie pie at that age. He would use the word ‘beep’ to replace swear words eg, quoting from the original Italian Job: ‘You’re only supposed to blow the beepin’ doors off!’ He wanted to call his Dad ‘bugalugs’ as a term of affection the other night. The Hub and I argued over this, because he says ‘bugalugs’ counts as swearing because it derives from the word ‘bugger,’ and I say it comes from having insects in your ears in Ye Olden Days, but, because the Hub was convinced it was swearing, we erred on the side of caution and consequently Spud was not allowed to use the word ‘bugalugs’, just in case.
One day, he wanted to say to his father, ‘Are you all right, beepalugs?’
What he actually said was, ‘Are you all right, buggerbeep?’