4th September 2014 will mark the closing of the most spectacularly rewarding and contented chapter in my life. It signifies the end of our sacrosanct ‘Maxa-Mumma’ days; dozy, snuggly afternoons on the sofa, and rain-dodging, ‘weeeeeeeee‘ inducing bus journeys. No more, ‘What shall we do today?’ Or, ‘Can we go to the train cafe, Mumma?’
The high-speed 0-5 train is about to make its final stop. The station: Padstow Primary School. And whilst I’d willingly sit with you on this train for ever, you are ready to disembark and start the next stage of your journey without me by your side.
Will you boldly walk into class in your over-sized grey shorts and too-long school shirt, or will you cling to my leg in terror? Will you manage to carry your dinner tray without losing your peas? Will you make friends? And will you manage to do a poo without shouting, ‘I’M FIIIINIIIISHED!’?
I don’t know, Max. I have no idea what school has in store for you. I tell you that you’ve nothing to fear when you say you’re ‘fwightened‘. I reassure you that you’re going to have a fantastic time and you’ll make the bestest ever friends. But I can’t guarantee a smooth passage for you; I won’t be there to protect you. I’m handing over my most precious being and simply hoping that all will be ok.
Of course, don’t get the wrong impression, Max. I haven’t spent the past few weeks sobbing in distress, nor having nightmares about letting go, nope, that’s only happened once or twice. Actually, I did have a horrifying dream last night. Your sister shot you dead! Make of that what you will. It could be a ‘closing of a chapter’ thing, or it might be because I watched The Godfather before bed.
Anyway, back to your mother’s open letter, which you’re probably finding a touch theatrical. After all, you’re going to a very good primary school, with a class of just fifteen; where Rick Stein’s fish pie is served, and where your sister has been incredibly happy this last year.
But, and I have lots of these, what if you don’t make any friends? What if no one lets you join in? What if they laugh at your hummus sandwiches? And worst of all, what if you’re BULLIED? Argh! What if! What if!
For five years, we’ve been inseparable; literally, during the first few months. You stuck to me like a, well, like a baby stuck to his mother’s breast. We spent every night together on the sofa, you suckling like a starved piglet (sorry, I’m sure that’s a hideous thing to picture), and me, eating digestives whilst watching Michael Portillo travel the length and breadth of Europe via train. You too, must have been listening to Michael’s informative words, as your love of trains remains unchallenged.
My greatest hope for you is that you’re happy. Above all else, I want you to have a happy time at school. Unfortunately for you, you’re yet to realise that a fair amount of school life sucks. There will be the annoying kid, the stinky kid, the nasty shit, the bogey eater, the best looking kid, the bore, the gyp, the incessant liar, the perpetual show-off, and the kid who steals your girlfriend. I wish I could assure you that such kids only exist in childhood but you will meet them all again, even the bogey eater, and especially the show-off.
My greatest piece of advice for you is to be nice. Yes, I realise that’s an incredibly bland thing to say, but the world has a dearth of nice people. And whilst I’d be delighted if you passed your GCSEs (ridiculously outdated means of academic assessment) at age seven, your A levels at age ten, and your PhD in your early teens, I really won’t give a toss if you’re not a nice lad. For being nice, kind, tolerant and moral is worth a million A star star double triple stars. Although this doesn’t mean you can bum. Even if you’re as nice as Jesus, you’ll still need a job. And judging by how long I’ve had to wait to get a quote for a building a garden wall, I’d suggest a career in the trades.
I’m probably getting ahead of myself. I don’t need to worry about career choices just yet. Unless you fall into a bad crowd by Christmas and I catch you on the roof of the social club shouting, ‘We don’t need no eduction!’ Perhaps I need to consider home-schooling.
So, farewell my little Maxa. You won’t remember our special days together, but I will remember them for ever. In no time at all, you’ll stop holding my hand, deny my very existence and start smelling of BO. Nevertheless, thank you, my beautiful boy. It’s been a blast.
And remember, just say NO!
Your ever-loving, slightly embarrassing,