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And So it Begins...

And So it Begins...
Written by
Belinda Scott

A regular feature of Wikizine: read Belinda Scott's experience as a, recently divorced, single mother of 5...

Well that’s the new academic year started. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly schools get down to extorting money from us parents. Only two days in and the screwed up bits of paper that can be found stuffed into many a nine year old’s school bag come floating out at some inopportune moment, usually when I have my hands in very attractive yellow gloves of the Marigold variety. Still, at least said nine year old DOES remember to give me the letters, unlike my older and younger children, who seem to ‘forget’ until it’s sometimes, or almost, too late to do anything about the contents of the begging/ransom notes.

Of course the children all looked beautiful on their first morning back at school. I must say that while I don’t in essence agree with school uniforms, there is something rather lovely in looking at your child(ren) all turned out in neat and tidy matching clothes. Plus, as the headmistress from my children’s former school once said, “But they can ruin their uniforms with paint and glue!” This was a bit of a revelation to me as I had always seen uniforms as something to be kept smart and replaced once they got ‘ruined’. After that little nugget of information I am now happy to let my children go to school in marked trousers and skirts (they are all in sensible navy blue here, so marks on sweaters and cardigans is no longer an issue). And don’t stress that the glueing project of three weeks ago is still being displayed to gallery like proportions on elbows and chests of almost brand new school attire.

Even my eldest looked smart in his new cargos and shirt. This is GCSE year for him so I think we’re both feeling the pressure. Odd to think that it feels like only a year or two since I sat my O Grades (the Scottish equivalent of O Levels – but better, of course!). The reality is it’s been two and a half decades - time flies when you’re knee deep in nappies and breast-pads. I’m confident he’ll be fine in his exams. He knows what he wants to do when he leaves school, which is a great help! So, at some point later this year, early next year, we’ll be Further Education College visiting for him – my little boy is growing up.

The new term has given me some relief from the inter-village-children squabbles that had been building towards the end of the holidays. You can tell when it’s time to go back to school when all the children seem to rub each other up the wrong way. And it’s not just the children, but the parents too! So it’s been nice to get back to a semblance of routine. The weekend saw the return of all the children to their usual super-friendly selves, oh, with the exception of the resident ASBO king in the making (not one of mine I hasten to add) who is just up to his usual tricks again. I’m back to patrolling the front garden as he insists on sitting in our tree while he smokes a crafty cigarette. Just think, in only 7 years he’ll be old enough to buy his own cigarettes!

The rest of my week has been dominated by my starting university. I can’t think I’ve ever been quite so stressed out, worried, harassed, lost and confused in all my life! Thankfully I spotted the other mature students who initially thought I was ‘one of them lot’ before accepting that having a 15 year old son might actually qualify me as mature (well, in the student sense, of course). So, teaming up with the other oldies has at least made me see that I’m not the only one who is stressed out, worried, harassed, etc. Although having now got to know a few of my younger peers, I can see that most of us are in the same boat! We’re all worrying about hours in university, whether we can get the mass of work that is required, done. It is a miracle that any of us survived the induction days, and I have to say I felt a touch of the green eyed monster when the new students turned up today, all relaxed and ready for action – having completely missed out on induction and zoo hell!! Bah!

I have met some lovely people over the last six days at university. My ‘buddy’ is a 19 year old Goth who is so gentle and good natured, and so completely not the scary person she looks like in her all black garb and huge wedged boots. She also smiles rather a lot! Which I thought Goths weren’t meant to do? I can see I have a lot to learn! I also witnessed an excruciating encounter with a teenager who, after finding out one of the other girls has just been diagnosed as Dyslexic and also has spatial and visual problems, promptly informed said slightly upset girl that she herself was “incredibly intelligent and ticked all the right boxes”. She then went on to add that of course, she knew that already. I turned to the newly diagnosed girl and said, “but you must have scored incredibly high on emotional intelligence, and to be honest, I had picked you out as one of the brightest sparks in the room”. What she might lose in perfect written work and bumping into desks, she certainly makes up for in enthusiasm and caring, and I know which qualities I regard as most important.

Once the university day trips are out the way (one down one to go) I shall hopefully settle into university life and manage all the work (on reduced hours, which the faculty is still ‘considering’. I told them at my interview that I couldn’t do the hours the course required and was told I’d be fine, but now I’m not so sure given the amount of work that is required), and the children, housework, day to day running of a larger than average family. You never know, I might even manage to sleep one night this year. But I won’t bank on it.

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