“I know I can’t…” George said as he got into bed the night before school went back after 7 weeks at home. “…but I wish I could have one more day’s break… you know, because today was so bad”.
We’d had a dramatic day with a visit to the emergency vet for a guinea pig with a large abscess that needed lancing, as well as witnessing a physical fight between three men in a shopping centre car park as we were looking for a parking spot (we hastily left the car park without going into the shopping centre).
“Mummy, I’m nervous” George said, “I’m nervous Mummy” in a wavering voice from a Tik Tok filter.
“I don’t want to do JPA (Junior Performing Arts) anymore.” He doesn’t want to continue playing clarinet and despite him dancing and singing (beautifully) round the house, doesn’t actually want to do that in public.
Earlier that night we wrote out his schedule, found clothes to wear for the return back to his no-uniform school, discussed lunch options and put some money in his wallet.
I cleaned out his school bag. Something one of us should’ve done 7 weeks earlier. My hand landed on something wet and squishy as I was assaulted by the smell of rotting citrus fruit. The bottomless pit of the school bag, where fruit goes to die, literally.
In the bag, I found:
- 1 black banana, shrunken, mummified with a bonus mould lesion
- the aforementioned mandarin
- 1 shrivelled apple
- 2 squashed cheese sticks
- 3 different drinks in cardboard cartons (Up and Go and apple juice).
George texted his friend to meet outside school at 8.30am.
The next morning he was too nervous to eat any breakfast. We gave the guinea pig his dose of antibiotics and reward kale treat, left on time and pulled up at school at 8.28am.
I’d decided to drive George to and from school for a bit until I was more sure of the buses – how crowded would they be? How clean, are the same ones running? He’d only just got used to catching the bus when school closed. Now his former bus buddy who he used to walk part way home with no longer lives next door to us.
“Ooh I’m nervous” he said as we passed some kids walking, one or two on bikes, he gazed at the playground of a primary school along the way.
We pulled into the car park of the high school to the sound of music (not the musical). There was a cluster of four or five kids, a teacher and a DJ spinning his tunes on a balcony, several metres away from where the kids were standing.
“I hate this song” said George as Dance Monkey blared across the school ground. “Where’s my friend?”
I offered to wait but he said no and got out of the car. I heard George’s name. It wasn’t the friend he’d arranged to meet, but another one. George’s face broke into a big smile as the DJ spun Chameleon.
I drove away and teared up a bit to see G happy to see his friend. I was grateful that the school had gone to the effort of organising a DJ to welcome the Year 7s back, in a socially-distanced way.
George phoned me at lunchtime to ask if his friend B could have a lift home. I left my office at 3pm to drive to collect them.
They were waiting for me out the front and I noticed B was taller with longer hair after almost 2 months of iso-life. (I’d squeezed in George for a haircut at my hairdresser’s house when I’d gone for my colour two weeks earlier).
George’s face appeared smiling at the car window, B behind him. “Hi Mum, B’s hit puberty a bit!” George felt the need to explain. B just looked a bit embarrassed and no one said anything else about it.
B’s voice was breaking. What a difference 7 weeks can make in a 12-year-old. It was like a scene from the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie when the kids come back from summer break and they all look older apart from Greg Heffley.
I asked B what he’d thought of online learning. “It was good, except for science. Science sucked. There was too much work.” Glad we weren’t the only ones who thought that.
I also heard that the Performing Arts teacher (the one we’d discovered on Tik Tok) brought her dog to school. “She didn’t want to leave him at home alone” George explained.
We dropped B home then George and I discussed afternoon tea. “Did you eat your lunch?” I asked. “Did you eat your grapes?”
“No, I couldn’t find them.”
It seems George’s bag really is the place where fruit goes to die.
How can I get my almost-teen to eat
more any fruit? Will I ever give up trying?
I don’t know how I would have coped if I had to do school from home. I know I’d be tempted to just muck around and not do anything.