Do you remember those days at school when you had to memorise your times tables, the counties of Ireland, your spellings, your teacher’s favourite poem? It seems a long time ago.
Tomorrow is the 1st of September, and my two children will go back to school. For a week now they have been taking out their school bags. Checking and double checking they have all the books on their list and the specified number of copies. Their pencil cases are filled with freshly sharpened pencils, pristine erasers and bright twistables. Everything has a name label, declaring ownership.
On the kitchen table the lunch boxes lie waiting to be filled. Upstairs new uniforms, one size bigger than last year, hang neatly pressed on hangers.
Tomorrow after the pandemonium of getting them out in time, I will sit and listen. But the house will be silent. No howls of laughter, no shouting, no issuing of instructions. The toys too will lie silent; no having to bring home hay, the toy horse will not have to give birth to another foal, the man with the missing leg will not be taken to the hospital, the dolls will not have to get dressed, the lego will lie where it is on the floor. It has been a soap opera of events and goings on, a riot of imagination.
I love listening to their imagination run free. Deep down I know that this time to be themselves will be more valuable than anything they can learn by memorising things at school.
I will miss the both. But I will try and remember that exploration of their minds that I have been privy to for the last few weeks. Because in that time they have been who ever they have wanted to be, in what ever way they wanted to be. And that, in my opinion, is worth a whole term of school work.