A Very Different Day

She barely slept. She says. I still had to wake her up this morning. But in fairness, once she was awake, she did get up. She got changed into her brand-new school uniform and sat down for breakfast. I made two pieces of toast with hummus (low-fat: her favourite condiment) but she only ate one piece. I was surprised she’d eaten anything at all: her first day of school. Jack tried to encourage her to eat for the sake of concentrated energy but the way she looked at it, I told her not to worry. I threw it in the bin as she walked off.

She came back into the kitchen after she’d brushed her teeth. Voulez-vous by Abba was on the radio. She cracked a couple of dance moves. I got the camera out and filmed her dancing in her school uniform for twenty seconds or so. She was laughing nervously. It came out like a determined happiness. Voulez-vous, aha – throw a shape – aha, Voulez-vous.

Jack took her to school. He didn’t want to leave early (his mind still remembering how I tricked him into leaving early last time), but I convinced him that they might have some forms to sign. Not just for my early obsession either. They probably did. It was still tense between us though, almost confrontational but backing off at the last moment. Both of us playing the defensive. Old habits.

I got a call from him about an hour later. ‘I’m just down on the industrial estate, sorting her school bus pass out.’

Aha. Of course. In this rural county, much importance is placed on transport to school. There’s a civic responsibility for every child being able to get there. And from what I can tell, this is a city/country divide. In built-up areas, everyone can just step off the tube/tram/train or take a bus to school. Here in the boonies, where public transport is limited, a large network of school buses take kids to school. A school bus stops right outside our house. Looking like a coach that could be going to London, we’ve seen it ruminating through our village an hour either side of school for years. We’ve even full-on used this fact against the girls when trying to sell internet school to them. The narrative consists of driving rain, pummelling wind, kids huddled into their doorways, sometimes wearing t-shirts in the middle of winter, dragging rucksacks like stone clubs. Mean but true.

Jack sorted out the school bus card today. Tomorrow she can take the bus to school. Jack also went to secondary school here, so he’s the one we use for the info on the school bus. We’ve heard his stories over the years… and some of them are genuinely good. Feral and giggly. The joke in our house is ‘Who did you beat up on the school bus Daddy?’. The answer was invariably the bully. The snob. The kid who beat his little brother up. When Jack turned up on the bus, any sense of calm got off and walked.

Yep. Our Lulu is taking the bus tomorrow.

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