This September, I, along with my parental cohort had the delight of waving our offspring off to secondary school. Man of the House and I have received, as I am sure that you have, a lot of helpful hints and tips from school and other parents who have already been through this toe-curling experience, as to how to make it less excruciating for all concerned. I have now collected together this wisdom, reflected on it and put it to one side. Here is my own helpful guide.
1. Before you start at school you must ignore your parent(s) when they tell you that secondary school will be different to primary school. It was about a million years ago that they were at school – as if they have a clue what it’s like. Never forget that they are not young enough to know everything.
2. Let them sort out all of the uniform etc. Show no interest whatsoever in what you are expected to attend school wearing, but simply expect it to magic itself all in the correct size, washed, ironed and labelled into your wardrobe and/or sports bag ready for you on your first day.
3. Even though they have had to re-mortgage the house to purchase all of the new uniform a) grow out of it as quickly as possible and b) come home in the first week with exciting news of an expensive field trip.
4. On your first day, and really for the first few weeks until you have got your parents into the new routine, you should ignore your alarm clock. Or don’t even bother to set it. Do not so much as flutter one eyelid until a parent enters your room with a cup of tea.
5. Between the hours of 6am to 8am and 5pm to 8pm speak only in grunts. If anyone over the age of eighteen, except for a teacher, attempts to engage you in conversation, sigh exasperatedly and reach for your phone. If you do speak, remember to do so in the manner of a tweenage television presenter or DJ who are just so cool that they can barely be bothered to speak, and certainly not properly.
6. It is anything but cool to use the word ‘cool.’
7. Lose your pencil case/Biology book/school tie at the most inconvenient time possible, preferably just as you are about to leave the house in the morning. Be adamant and vocal about where you last saw it, claim that you have searched for it several times to no avail, and finally accuse someone else (preferably a sibling, if available) of moving it. Involve the entire family in the search, including the dog. Be incredibly ungrateful when someone else finds it exactly where you said it was not.
8. Let your fingerprint loose on Parentpay. Everyone knows it’s not real money.
9. After years of your parents trying to make sure you have a balanced diet, now is the time to get your own back. Have that daily Danish pastry or bacon sandwich at break, together with chips at lunch. Who wants to be as old as your parents anyway? It’s a miracle they’ve lived this long.
10. Everyone knows that homework is optional and should always be left until the last minute. It is also essential that you spend more time arguing with your parents about doing the homework than it actually takes to do it. Repeat daily for seven years.
11. Swear as much as possible, even in front of younger children and especially when it is entirely unnecessary. But not in front of your teachers.
12. Attitude. Get some. Get lots. But just for your parents. If you are chastised by your parent about your poor attitude you must go “oooooohhhh” as if to say “oh and now I’m really scared” to show how grown up you are.
13. Should anyone related to you show you any sign of affection in front of anyone you know, die of embarrassment. If their hand so much as gets within ten centimetres of your person, flinch and look at them as if they had tried to beat you with a shitty stick.
14. Similarly if they mention antiquated phrases like “first year” and “sixth form”. What the hell is sixth form?
15. Fall asleep on the sofa in the evening or at the weekend. Your parents will forgive you anything, absolutely anything in the entire world, when they see you curled up and fast asleep.
You know you thought that you would have more time on your hands, more money in your purse, more food in your fridge and you’d call a halt on mid-week drinking? Roasted.