…The Last Day of School: A story of built-in osbsolescence.

Seven years ago I first dropped my daughter off at St Morrissey’s Primary School, Manchester.  

Having studied a bit of child psychology and attachment theory, I was prepared for a few tears and a bit of kicking and screaming.  But I was holding things together pretty well and was keeping them to a minimum.   

The girl was fine too. 

At the classroom door I was about to deliver my “Be brave, my princess…” speech as well as a blubbering wreck could, when I realized she’d started to drift away. 

She was being drawn over to where some other kids were painting spaghetti and gluing it to pieces of paper, the table, themselves and their hitherto immaculate brand-new first-day school uniforms.   

The magnificent Mrs Rathor sees us arrive.  She puts her arm around the girl’s shoulder to guide her in.  She catches my eye and mouths the word “GO!” to me.   

No – not to me.  At me.   

And I do as I’m told, and I go. 

The girl turns her back and never looks round. 

This week, seven years and the blink of an eye later, I make the same walk up the hill for the last time.  This time only holding hands until we’re close enough to the school that she might get spotted by her mates, before she wordlessly lets go and drifts a few feet to one side. 

This time she joins the huddle of other year sixes in their leavers’ hoodies at the gate while I wait with the boy on the other side of the road.  

The door opens at eight forty-five.  The magnificent Mrs Cook releases the gate and the year sixes drift in in their huddles and their hoodies, shouting, giggling, having one last check of their phones. 

And still she never looks round. 

I well up, watching the slowly closing door. 

Five minutes later the boy’s class is called in. 

He takes two steps. 


Takes two steps back. 

Gives me a hug. 

Then rejoins the line. 

There are a couple of lessons to be learned from this.   

Firstly, that it is obscene that no-one ever warns us about this.  

 It’s one of those secrets like how, as a new parent as soon as you put your child in the back of your car to come home from hospital, you instantly forget how to drive.   

Or how your mates may warn you how knackered a newborn leaves you (although you don’t believe them, like the arse you are).  But nobody warns you how bloody boring the cycle of clean, feed, burb, sleep, clean, repeat is for the first few weeks with a newborn.  So you embarrassedly, even guiltily, think it’s just you that doesn’t love every tedious and repetitive minute before they start to smile (the point at which Mrs. Brown, who is steelier than me, referred to as “Getting a return on her investment”).  

But with this I am not alone.  I have since found out from messages and social media postings from former University friends or rugby teammates that I am only a very tiny cohort of the army of forty-somethings I’m friendly with who have similar age kids, and who have been reduced to blubbering wrecks by this moment.  Neither second row forwards nor orthopaedic surgeons are immune. 

When my kids started at nursery there would be days of me kicking off a child clinging to my trouser leg in tears when I had to rush away to work.  But a million times worse were the days when they would blast in and tuck into their Ikea bowl of own-brand weetabix without so much as a flicker.   

A happy medium of, “Goodbye father.  I will miss you, but I appreciate the value of the good work you do! Farewell and God speed!” would have been OK, I suppose. 

But most importantly, I have realized I am hitting a point of built-in obsolescence when Rick 2.0 no longer needs me every step of the way.  But while I may be left a crumpled and sobbing wreck (thank god for the masks on that day!) while the mums step cautiously round me on their ways home like a dropped ice cream or an upper-medium sized dog poo:  if it means that the girl is moving on happily with confidence and good friends… 

Well, I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

5 thoughts on “…The Last Day of School: A story of built-in osbsolescence.

  1. I felt all the emotions reading this post! How quickly the time passes. I rarely cry in public but when it comes to the kids firsts and lasts, all bets are off. I become the first and more prolific cryer setting off other parents like dominos…oh well. I’m sure our kids will need us a bit longer, I mean, my mum still peels fruit for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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