Not Another Back to School Post

Mark Parenting, Travel Leave a Comment

Sorry, I lied, it absolutely is another back to school post. What can you do, I called it The Tales of Sonny and Luca. You make your bed, you lie in it.

Sonny started Juniors today, but he’ll not forget his time in infants, not least because those memories are still etched across his tie in gravy.

Luca started Year Two with Sonny’s old teacher. A blessing if judged on his handwriting, less so if judged on his homework.

And whilst Janet was amazed at how much they’d grown over the summer holidays, as the stay-at-home parent responsible for their uniforms I thought it wise not to mention their trousers were fast approaching three-quarter length long before the end of last term.

But unlike previous new school years I’m steering away from my usual clichéd sarcasm about how great it is to be shot of them for another term, because whilst it’s nice to have my box-set study time back, it’s been a brilliant summer holidays.

lake-gardaThey’ve flown by for many reasons, not least because they started with our first proper family holiday together, visiting Lake Garda courtesy of the good folk at Canvas Holidays.

Then there was the three weeks of holiday club, courtesy of Janet’s childcare vouchers.

The options, which Janet tells me were fully explained and in great detail, were football, Olympic sports or rhythmix.

Unfortunately, due to my inability to multitask a conversation with watching football, what I heard was ‘something, summat else and gymnastics’.

I went with the only one I heard, or rather misheard. Well, what with Max Whitlock’s achievements it seemed the easiest sell.

Turns out rhythmix and gymnastics aren’t exactly the same thing. Something that became abundantly clear when the schedule for their first day made no mention of a pommel horse but did include cheerleading!?

Not to worry, they’ll not realise it’s a glorified dance class …

‘At the end of the week there will be a dance show for the parents’

… until Friday.

What it did highlight though, and I’m not proud to admit this, is that my claim to be a passionate proponent of gender equality isn’t all it should be, and my assumption that they’d hate a dance class was based purely on my own prejudice. Because whilst, as expected, they were the only boys in the class, they absolutely loved it. Moreover, the dance show on the Friday turned out to be their favourite bit.

And to be fair, it was a pretty nifty routine, although if like me you thought a dance with twenty kids would, by the law of averages, mean at least two were clapping in time with each other, you’d be wrong.

We’ve also had their fifteen-year old cousin staying with us over the summer which has helped in so many ways. It meant I could send them out Pokemon hunting without fearing they’d get mugged, hit by a car or worse still lose my shiny new phone down a drain.

It meant I could prepare myself for when my boys get older by becoming proficient in teenage grunts; who knew there was such small nuances between ‘I’m going out’, ‘what’s for dinner?’ and ‘we need more bog roll’. I’m also going to reinvest their child trust fund into Kellogg’s. I’ve no idea what the average weekly consumption of cereal is for a teenager but I’m guessing it’s measured in tonnes.

And for better or worse, it also meant I was able to impart all my worldly wisdom on to him. Wisdom such as staying up till the early hours to watch the Olympics, knowing you can then stink in your pit until lunchtime the following day, is living the dream. That’s as good as it gets. Everything thereafter can and will go downhill, until you realise you’ve reached middle-age and the only Olympics you get to watch are the highlights because you’re simultaneously juggling dinner, tantrums and bedtime stories. Not that I’m bitter.

He also collected the first of his GCSE’s over the summer which gave me the opportunity to return to my old secondary school, and in doing so discover that despite my heroics as triple jump champion, school sports day, 1989, the sports hall hasn’t been renamed in my honour? Neither is there a blue plaque commemorating my achievement of being one of the few ex-pupils not to be in prison or a regular on Jeremy Kyle?

man-cityThere’s been umpteen birthdays. Their cousin turned fifteen, Sonny and Luca turned seven and six respectively, and I finally waved goodbye to my early-thirties by turning 42.

I took the boys to their first football match to see the mighty reserves of Man City play FC Steaua București. Given the five-nil aggregate lead going into the match, probably not the best game to tempt Sonny away from the dark side of Old Trafford, nor cement Luca’s wavering support of the Blues, but the excitement of seeing the stadium and staying up late hopefully made up for the dire football we watched, and if nothing else at least bought me a little more time to work on their footballing loyalties.

We’ve been to a family rave hosted by the fabulous Big Fish Little Fish where I was able to bore them with anecdotes from the 90s, give lectures on what constitutes real music and showcase just a small selection of my huge portfolio of old skool rave moves, none of which were evident in Luca’s subsequent mix of free-styling/interpretive dance …

We even managed a few visits to the museums of Manchester and enough treks to the park to be diagnosed with the early onset of playground fatigue.

And yet, when I go to their first parents evening and read the obligatory ‘what I did on my summer holidays’ story, I have little doubt it will begin and end with watching YouTube?

But all of this does explain why there were so many sighs this morning. For Luca it was sighs of resignation that he had to brush his teeth and get dressed before lunchtime. For Sonny they were anxious sighs at the thought of having to go through the Junior gates alone. And for me, it was the realisation that it is in fact I who is addicted to Pokemon Go, not them, and as such I need to learn the art of throwing pokeballs whilst making out I’m reading a text message.

On which note, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the gym. A real gym with treadmills and stuff as opposed to a Pokemon gym? Err … maybe …

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