Matthew Panter: Recalling the school timetable of terror
Children, in their new shiny shoes, have been heading back to education this week and one thing was enough to send a cold shiver down my spine, evoking memories of a few decades past and my own school days.
My daughter Eleanor started her first year at secondary school and, as she returned, upbeat, after her first day, I caught sight of her weekly timetable.
It reminded me of why, in the words of The Boomtown Rats, I don’t like Mondays.
Hopefully, Eleanor is different to me. She is, after all, still finding her feet in terms of the subjects she likes. But when I peered at her daily schedule, her Monday – full of mathematics and science – catapulted me back in time to feelings of dread.
Mondays always seemed to be full of the subjects I disliked – maths, physics and chemistry. It felt I was being punished by fiendish teachers for having a couple of days off. I still remember vividly the feeling of horror once the end music to London’s Burning began on a Sunday night – a signal Monday was around the corner.
Getting used to having a child at secondary school is tough. Partly because it makes me feel old, and you feel you have to allow them more freedom, thus worrying more!
But one thing I like, compared to my school years, is how technology means, as a parent, you can have more understanding of the challenges your child faces. No longer can a pupil ‘accidentally’ lose a letter from a teacher, meant for their parent.
We have a great online app, where teachers give pupils points for behaviour and contributions to classes. Its great motivation for the pupils but also offers reassurance and insight for parents, especially when your child is just out of primary school and you are fretting about how they will cope with the rigours of a new curriculum.
As the kids go back to school for another year, it also highlights how quickly another year has gone.
And, as we enter September, the question is, when is a respectable time to eat your first mince pie to celebrate Christmas? It feels like stores have been selling festive food and Christmas decorations for about a month already and that is bad news for me because I’m always likely to peak too soon.
I’m certainly more Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf than Jim Carrey’s The Grinch in terms of excitement in the run-up to Christmas but even I can’t get my head around the fact shops get earlier and earlier with their festive ware.
So, however tempting a mince pie might be, I’m staying strong. At least until October!