The last day of school

Today was Bee’s last day of school.

“Gosh, you don’t look old enough to have a teenager!” is the standard response when I tell people my eldest daughter is 16 this year.

“I’m not old enough to have a teenager,” I normally reply. The day people stop looking slightly shocked will be the day I know I am old.

I can remember my last day of school, 17 years ago, very clearly – all the Year Elevens gathered in the school hall, the shirt signing, the tears. Weird how at the time those people feel like your whole life. That afternoon in the hall, the mascara running and the hormones surging, I thought we’d be friends for life.

At the time I didn’t look old enough to be a teenager, let alone have one, so a big night out on the town to celebrate our new-found freedom was out of the question. The pubs in Bridgwater may have been fairly laid back, but they were never going to let in someone who basically looked about 12.

So instead, I ended up with a group of similarly young-looking/unpopular friends, sat in a bandstand in a local park, sharing a bottle of martini we’d got an old man to buy us from an off licence.

Oh, the glamour of underage drinking.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, when I went to my GCSE certificate presentation evening a few months later I was already pregnant. I turned out to be the first girl in my year group to have a baby, although I’m pretty sure most people would say I was pretty much the last person anyone expected to get pregnant. I was the epitome of square, had the best GCSE results in my year, and I doubt many of my peers would have even said I was having sex if they’d been asked to put money on it.

Still, I was. So there you go.

17 years since I left school, and now here I am, the mother of a school leaver. So how do I feel? Do I feel old? No. Do I feel old enough? No, not really. I still feel like that 16 year old, having her shirt signed, wondering how she was going to go about getting served. I still feel vaguely guilty buying alchohol in supermarkets. It could be just me, but the older I get the more I realise we never really grow up.

Bee’s off out tonight to celebrate. Let’s just hope she ends up doing something a little more classy than drinking martini in a bandstand.



  1. 27 May, 2011 / 5:27 pm

    I remember my last day of school. My mother had arranged for me to have my tonsils out the very next day. Lousy timing. It meant I had to spend at least the next decade compensating. Good luck to Bee!

  2. prymface
    27 May, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    I love the fact we share the same life!*

    *I got the best GCSE results in my year
    *I was the LAST person anyone suspected would get preggers
    *I was already pregnant (just) by the time I went to my GCSE presentation evening!
    * I still haven’t grown up!

  3. celaV
    27 May, 2011 / 6:02 pm

    I say ‘Oh, I’ve an *excellent* plastic surgeon’

    It’s not so much fun when you watch them mentally calculate how old you must be, tho!

  4. Lisbeth
    27 May, 2011 / 6:35 pm

    I feel guilty when I buy alcohol. I feel AWFUL when I book into a hotel to have sex, even though I’ve been married since God was a boy. I get EXCITED when I start the car engine, even though I’m nearly 40. Sometimes I get a frisson of excitement because I’ve got my own HOUSE KEY. And now my husband’s had a vasectomy, I can’t believe I can have SEX WHENEVER I LIKE and I don’t have to ask anyone or anything. Except my husband, obviously. Are we mad or are we normal? Are we really immature?

  5. Vicky Nunes
    27 May, 2011 / 6:53 pm

    Posts and comments like these are reassuring. I sometimes feel like I should be a lot more “grown-up” than I am. In many ways I feel not so different to my 18/19 yr old self.

    On my last day at school I couldn’t wait to leave. I looked on in bewilderment at the hysterical girls who were saying they’d keep in touch with everyone. I pretty much knew I would disregard 99% of them as soon as I walked out the door. Though thankfully, my best friend then is my best friend now…so some friendships do last.

    Hope Bee has a great night celebrating.

  6. 27 May, 2011 / 7:00 pm

    I remember my last day at school, we moved after my exams but before end of school year, and as I was just a forces brat nobody gave too hoots about me going…..and I decided as I was 16 by this time I was not going to re-start another school, so left and then couldn’t get a job for 6 months, hey ho

  7. Lynley Oram
    27 May, 2011 / 7:12 pm

    I called home at morning break, my mum told me I’d got the job I’d been for, I told the teacher I was leaving and that was that. All on the first day of the year. My teacher’s response was ‘oh thank goodness, er I mean well done! Enjoy your job’. Honestly. Way to make me feel wanted.

  8. 27 May, 2011 / 7:24 pm

    A great post. I asked my grandmother in her 80s for some relationship advice. She replied “What do I know? I’m 17”. In some ways we get wiser – but I think there’s always a part of us that stays a bit bewildered and a bit 17.

  9. 28 May, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    I really enjoyed this post…but I always enjoy your posts, so this isn’t saying much. One of the reasons I like your writing is the humor. The reason I liked this one was the feeling. You are such a delightful writer.

  10. 4 June, 2011 / 12:35 am

    People tell me I don’t look old enough to own a dog! I’m in my 30s.

    • 5 June, 2011 / 3:42 pm

      Ha ha! How old do you have to be to have a dog?? I once got asked for ID buying a vegetable knife in Woolworths. I was about 28.

  11. 6 June, 2011 / 12:21 pm

    Great post. It’s all about our mental age isn’t it? :)

    Love Bx

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