Susan Morrison: School’s out for... ever

File picture: Neil Hanna
File picture: Neil Hanna
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LAST Monday the lad went off to school at 8.10. He came back again at 11.25. He had left school. Signed a form and everything.

There’s not much I can do about it. He’s 17 now and can legally marry, join the armed forces and vote in certain elections, although I’d seriously want to review all his choices in all those decisions.

Farewell to the blazers, the sports days, the assemblies and that look on the headteacher’s face when she spots you in the playground.

To be fair, the end of the school career was a two-way street. Full-time education and the boy underwent what trendy couples would refer to as a sort of “conscious uncoupling”. They never really got on. Another year at school would have been nothing more than a holding tank for him.

But suddenly there it was, well, there he was, standing there in the kitchen and school was out forever.

Between him and his sister, we’ve had kids in the school system for 20 years.

It really does seem only yesterday since the first mornings for both of them, bright as buttons, shiny in new uniforms.

How many hours did the Yorkshire husband and I spend hunting down gym kits, the ninja of school equipment, blessed with the ability to come home from school and seamlessly vanish under beds, the back of wardrobes and on one occasion, the boot of the car, which neither child had been in for days? The car, that is, not the boot. Although there were times, as any parent will tell you, when I was tempted . . .

Oh, those annual treks to the shop where the staff served with the haughty ennui of lofty aristocrats trampling over peasants at the gates of Versailles, because this was the sanctioned shop that sold the correctly embroidered school polo shirt, which then lived permanently under a jumper so no-one ever saw the correctly embroidered logo.

No more packed lunches, those little bombs of middle-class guilt lurking in the school bag, full of sarnies made of white sliced bread and processed cheese with pink plasticy ham, instead of artisan farmhouse, hummus and farmers’ market finest cold cuts.

It’s all very well for Jamie Oliver to bang on about balanced diets and force feeding kids carrot sticks but, trust me, if the boy doesn’t like them, the boy won’t eat them. There’s nothing quite like the impact of the guilt tsunami, triggered by the realisation that he hasn’t eaten that day because I ditched the Dairylea Lunchables for a quirky idea I read about in the Guardian.

So farewell to the blazers, the sports days, the assemblies and that look on the headteacher’s face when she spots you in the playground.

Lipton had it planned down to a tea

A brave new world beckons. I don’t think he’s realised the half of it.

When Thomas Lipton was 17 he crossed the Atlantic to America, where he promptly vanished for six years, came back, opened his shop and conquered the world with Lipton’s Tea. I’m not sure I can send my lad to Tesco. And it’s only across Great Junction Street.

He plans to volunteer, and the word “college” has been muttered, so plans are afoot. I rather suspect he’ll wind up doing a job I can’t even begin to grasp, like designing some weird bit of techno nonsense for a future gizmo that enables dolphins to order fast food.

I still wouldn’t be classed as a mature student

Access to education used to be fairly brutal. School, university and that was that, and you got as much schooling as you were going to get by the time you were 22.

Any attempt to stay on laid you open to the charge of being “professional student”, and the idea of people going into higher education after the teenage acne had cleared was considered mildly eccentric, but education really is wasted on the young sometimes.

Ask any university lecturer and they’ll tell you that the best students are what we used to call “mature students”, a highly apt phrase since by no measurement at all could I have been considered at the age of 18, at Stirling University, to have been in any way mature.

Still not, really.

It Moss be the wise choice as a career move

There are more options today, so if he wakes one morning and decides he wants to be an accountant he probably can, although he’d have a hard time explaining that career choice to me. As far as I am aware, the counting gene doesn’t run in our family.

Good grief, he might decide to go into retail, build up a chain of shops, get a knighthood, buy up a venerable British store that stocks things for the home and then loot the pension scheme six ways past Sunday to buy superyachts and jolly about with Kate Moss.

He wouldn’t have to explain that career choice to me. He’d never have the chance to speak to me again.

Or he could end up emptying bins, a good honest job if ever there was one.