Today my 3 sons went back to school. They all had very different Christmas breaks and all went back in very different moods. It made me realise just how short childhood is these days.
Son 3 is 5 years old and in Reception year at school. I think that there is every chance that if you analysed it, being 5 is just about as good as it gets at Christmas. He wholeheartedly, 100% KNOWS that Father Christmas is real, and more importantly, he KNOWS that Father Christmas lives at Bocketts Farm in the week before Christmas. He has no doubts and always gets the thing he most wants for Christmas (this year’s random request was for a toy horse – simple!). For him the last 3 weeks have been a constant stream of family visitors, special meals, chocolate treats, cinema visits and playdates. As always the final day of the holidays is reserved for a visit to the Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. His ‘dinosaur phase’ is now in its third year and doesn’t show any signs of fading.
Son 1 is nearly 17, he has had 3 weeks of lie-ins until 10.30, long visits to the gym, parties and possibly the worst set of Christmas presents he has ever had – socks and body spray, your time is now. I suggested he get a part-time job during these holidays and he looked at me, puzzled, as though I had gone slightly insane. ‘How do I do that?’ he said. I explained that he just need to go to the local shopping centre and ask if they were hiring temporary staff. Again, that look. “That would just be weird’ he said. He managed to avoid any further discussion by finding lots of school work that needed doing and locking himself in his room with his TV, laptop and phone. According to my calculations he has done 102 hours of additional homework this holiday if this time was being used productively.
Son 2 has had the most miserable time. He is 15 and has his mock GCSEs starting today, straight after the holidays. He had a revision timetable set for the whole holiday and only 3 days were blank – Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. He had to do 4 sessions per day and as dutiful parents our job was simply to nag the back teeth out of him and moan at him on a daily basis until he did that. At the beginning of the holidays I sat down with him and warned him we were about to embark on a very fractious few weeks. I didn’t let him down. I hate myself for being such a witch. He in turn became the Daddy of procrastination and would do anything rather than revise, even empty the dishwasher!
Today they all went back to school. Son 2 was up early, full of nerves and set off early to go and get these sodding exams out of the way. Son 1 looked sort of relieved, that he was glad he was getting some structure back to his day and that I might now stop banging on about getting a job.
Then there was Son 3 who sat on the bench in the playground and resolutely refused to enter the school. I tried to gently explain why he had to go back and he started quietly sobbing. It broke my heart. The tears rolled down his face as I ended up carrying him into the building. I had to leave him, sitting on the floor sobbing. Peering at me through his tears he said ‘but I just want to be at home Mummy’. I guess he really did have the best holiday