Youngest has his secondary school interview. I say interview, really it's just a chat to welcome him to the school and tell him what to expect in September. As we walk through the gates he says he feels sick. "It's just nerves," I say, "You'll be okay in a minute."
I don't tell him that on my first day at secondary school I threw up on the front steps as I left home. I was terrified. We had just moved to a new house in a new area and I didn't know anyone. I'd never set foot in the school. It was to be the fourth different school I went to in five years because we had lived abroad. I wouldn't recommend it. Going to four different schools in five years, that is. The school was okay.
I do tell Youngest that he is lucky to be going to a school where his two brothers are and lots of his friends will be going, and lucky to be invited in for a chat and an induction day later in the summer.
I remember when it was Middle One's interview a few years back. "Welcome to the school," said the teacher. I was waiting for her to ask him what he was looking forward to. He was all prepared to say that he wanted to learn German and couldn't wait to do experiments in a real science lab. But she didn't ask him what he was looking forward to, at least not at first. She said, "Hello. Our Lethal Weapons Policy is not to bring knives in school..."
Youngest had to write a personal statement to take with him. I'm not sure anyone ever reads these things. His was all about penguins. He loves penguins. Then down at the bottom there was a lonely little line: "I hope I don't get bullied when I come to this school". All his friends tell him he will be bullied because he's so small. So that's nice.
When I read his personal statement with the penguins and the line about bullying I decide to send the school an email to suggest that they don't mention the Lethal Weapons Policy this time, at least not as an opening gambit. I cut and paste the personal statement about penguins to add at the bottom by way of explanation. I don't get a reply.
"I really do feel sick," says Youngest as we sit in the reception area waiting. His skinny legs swing back on forth on the too-high shabby chair and we chat to the boys who have been charged with looking after us. One has a lazy eye and the other has a gold earring, but they're very friendly.
A senior member of staff passes and stops to talk. She kneels down to get to his level and Youngest tells her all about the two penguins he sponsors. She says she likes penguins too. I'm impressed.
Youngest goes in for his chat. The teacher doesn't mention the Lethal Weapons Policy. Not once. She is gentle and friendly and charming and helpful. She couldn't be nicer. She takes his personal statement from him to "read later".
When we come out we bump into the Head. Well, one of them. "I sent you an email yesterday," I say.
"Yes," he says, "I shared it with all the senior staff this morning."
"That was okay, wasn't it?" I say to Youngest as we walk out. Are you happy?"
"Yes," he says, "But I do still feel sick."
I take him back to his primary school. Later they ring me to say he has stomachache and will I take him home? I go and collect him. At bedtime he starts to throw up.