Thursday, 20 December 2012

End of the world.

It's occurred to me that if the world ends tomorrow I’ll never know who won Strictly, which is a pity because I’ve really been enjoying it. In fact husband and I have been enjoying it together, which just like the imminent end of the world has taken me rather by surprise. 

I guess it's because Strictly has the lot: sex appeal, drama, skill, comedy, a well-plotted story arc and - we hope - a satisfying resolution. Plus it's camp as Christmas, which it also embraces this weekend, if we all manage to get that far.

We're so over-excited (by Strictly, not the end of the world) that we’re planning a little finals party for Saturday night, just the two of us. We won’t cook, we’ll get a takeaway and some fizz and eat and drink it all in the living room in front of the telly as a treat. 

You have to admit, we really know how to let our hair down. Although, if the world has ended by then we won't get to do all that, which would be another pity because we hardly ever watch telly together.

Actually, I don’t believe the world will end on Friday according to Mayan prophesy and as widely reported (apparently they didn’t even prophesise it, everyone’s got the wrong end of the stick), but things are ending all the time at the moment - and I don’t just mean Strictly. I was thinking about primary school.

On Monday I went to my last ever primary carol concert at the local church, after eleven consecutive years of it. Then, yesterday, husband and I went to see Youngest in the Early Years Christmas play, also the last time we’ll see one of those, at least one involving our own children. 

As a member of Year 6, at the top of the school now, Youngest had a coveted speaking part, even if it did only require saying “Why?” eleven times before then saying, “Christmas!” we were still proud. Proud as punch actually. It even surpassed watching Strictly.

I got a bit choked when I saw those Year 6 children taking the hands of the little nursery and reception ones. There’s something so very touching and familial about it: the older ones looking after the younger, the visual impact right there on the stage: this is what they once were, so tiny and vulnerable, this is what they are now, they grow, they change, they disappear before our eyes. Childhood, just like everything else, has an end.

I tried to remember all the years gone by. I could conjure Youngest at that age, I know he was a sheep one year, and then an elf. I couldn’t quite remember what Middle One was but I had an image of him up there somewhere near the front. When I searched further back, eleven long years back to when Eldest was five, I couldn’t find the image at all, no matter how much I rooted about in the rubbish I keep there. What was he?

What is left behind are the scraps of an impression: a very blonde little boy, so serious, so beautiful - to me anyway - and so very loved. Back then I would have been pregnant with Youngest, with a three-year-old in tow, so those memories are sadly sepia blurred about the edges from all that exhaustion. That's my excuse anyway.

Sometimes parenthood seems to be all about the loss: the end of things. That last day at nursery, that last baby tooth, that last time they hold your hand when crossing the road, although, of course, you'll never know when that moment is, which makes it all the more poignant somehow. 

And it made me envy those younger mothers in that school hall, even the ones nursing babies with clinging toddlers at their feet, because they still have so much of it before them, while for me so much has already slipped away.

The end of primary school for the youngest in the family, looming so close, seems such a significant landmark. Not the end of the world perhaps, but nearing the end of one for us. 

Plus, what on earth are we going to do without Strictly?


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