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new beginnings

September 10, 2010

On reading the beguiling descriptions of your favourite seasons in the comments on ‘Birthday Beastie‘, I was struck by the number of us who chose Autumn. I suppose it is hardly surprising that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere should have the coming season uppermost in our minds. One comment which really struck a chord in me was from Barbara in New Hampshire, who writes about Autumn as the true beginning of the year, as the mornings turn crisp and children go back to school. In the Judaic calendar it really is New Year, of course: one friend wished everyone a Happy New Year on Facebook today, to the extreme confusion of some of her Gentile friends! It’s the turn of the season and the start of the new academic year, though, which have always brought a sense of new beginnings to me.

For our family, this Autumn is very much the start of a new chapter in our lives. Our younger son began his school career last month, bringing to a close those adorable, infuriating, precious pre-school years. He runs into school in the mornings without a backward glance: it is only his parents who are sentimental about the change. And on Monday we took our elder son to his new school in Edinburgh, where he will be a fortnightly boarder. We have (obviously) thought a great deal about what is best for him and we have no doubts that we have chosen a school which will suit him very well (much better than his first) and which is a happy and stimulating home from home. Nonetheless, it was a wrench to come home without him and not to know whether he got to sleep all right that night and so on. Bath time was unusually quiet, with only one wriggly little boy in the bath! Anyway, the school have been in touch a couple of times to report, and he seems to be settling in very well and enjoying all the exciting activities on offer. He is a quiet wee thing with an inner strength, it seems, and we are very proud of him.

In relation to this, I should say that in my opinion J.K.Rowling deserves a medal for services to children, especially those going off to boarding school. When trying to envisage what boarding school would be like, my son was greatly inspired by the Harry Potter books. Being a sensible sort of chap he was under no illusions about his new school harbouring a chamber of secrets or running on owl post, but Hogwarts certainly made the whole idea of boarding seem more accessible. Even the discovery that he needs glasses, which initially he was rather dispirited about, became pleasurable once I reminded him that Harry wears glasses too. (Unfortunately the National Health Service in Britain has failed to pick up on the Harry Potter phenomenon and we were thus unable to find a round-rimmed pair, but oval is good enough.) By the time we came to packing his new uniform into an old trunk (just like Harry’s!) which I found in an attic, he was really quite excited about going off to school. If only we could have got there by Hogwarts Express, our book-and-steam-engine-loving son’s happiness would have been complete.

As parents, we feel very lucky that our boys are each embracing their new experiences with such sunny enthusiasm. It is an emotional time for us all and Mummy and Daddy have had a few wobbly moments ourselves. Of course, it is inevitable that the boys will each have them too from time to time, but their present excitement is catching. Driving into the grounds of not-Hogwarts on Monday with our elder son, I felt a sudden sense of anticipation and rightness. These are good beginnings. Happy new year.

See also: What are little boys made of?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 10:14 am

    I’m so pleased to hear both boys have settled in well to their respective schools. I hadn’t realised younger son was starting too! I’ve been thinking of you and your husband – it’s a big step for children and parents, the transition to school, and for elder son being away from home too! Though I suspect you as parents are feeling it harder than he is! Good old JKR though! I always loved the Harry Potter series too and although elder son hopefully won’t meet any three headed monsters(!), it’s a similar “rite of passage” and an exciting time for all!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 10, 2010 10:42 am

      Thanks, Sian. The house seems very quiet this week and I am amazed at all the things I can get done! I do hope we feel it harder than he does – hope this first weekend away is fun for him…(sob)…

      I’m a fan of Harry Potter for all sorts of reasons, not least for the delicious, witty inventiveness of it all, and also the fierce sense of family love in the series. JKR is much maligned by sniffy critics who can’t seem to see beyond the occasional stylistic weakness. I think she’s a gem.

      • September 11, 2010 11:56 am

        I get cross with the sniffy critics – look at the millions of children who have avidly read the books! I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton – Famous Five, Mallory Towers, St Clare novels etc for similar reasons you describe for the Harry Potter novels. My father was a head-teacher and didn’t rate Enid Blyton too highly either, however he was glad to see me read and as long as I promised to read other books too he was happy! I have all the HP novels and re-read them each winter. I too love the inventiveness and wit. Bet Elder Son is having midnight feasts already 😉

  2. Mary Carver-Stiehler permalink
    September 10, 2010 10:52 am

    This time of year is truly my favorite also. Though a sad time too when the Windjammers get covered up with their shrouds for the cold weather. BUT the air is so crisp , clear and clean. The kids get excited for Halloween which is just around the corner. Harry Potter… I am reading the first book to my seven year old at bedtime. We snuggle and talk about what we are reading. Owl Post, I for one would love that way of communication and my Daniel said “wouldn’t that be neat!” Daniel who also needs reading glasses was fortunate enough to have a kind teacher who’s son had Harry Potter Glasses so last year she gave him those and we brought them to his eye doctor , changed the lens and he now is a little Harry Potter, but with much lighter hair. His brother Patrick drew a scar on his forehead to match Harry’s on the first day he wore them.
    Yes, I think this truly is the new year, everything will become new again.
    Mary Camden , Maine, USA

  3. September 10, 2010 9:09 pm

    Oh, it’s a real thought sending such a young child off to board……not something that would have suited us, hence the reason we are in civvy street! A hard decision…..even the Archers were talking about it last week! Hope it goes well.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 12, 2010 7:03 pm

      Thank you. Yes, I must say that if there had been as good an option closer to home, I’d have loved to keep him as a day boy. But there wasn’t, so there we go. I can understand how people who haven’t boarded themselves (or who did and hated it) must think it’s incomprehensible to send your wee one away, though! It certainly helps a lot that we feel so sure about it being the right school for him, and that sure enough, he has settled in really happily and sounds so relaxed and cheerful on the phone. And so grown up…sniff….

  4. September 13, 2010 3:45 pm

    My favourite time of year too. And yes, J.K Rowling made me wish I’d gone to boarding school too! Wishing him all the best.

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