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.