Jaqui's Daily Blog

Back to School and the Empty Staircase Moment

Back to school!


 How I love all those “back to school” photographs posted on Facebook! There are the “first day” photos of lads and lassies who look almost too little to be going to school at all, all scrubbed faces, pressed grey trousers or pinafore dresses, smiles that encompass both excitement and fear in equal parts.


Then there are the “off to Big School” photos - Big School being either junior or senior school depending on the age of the child concerned. My Rascal (now a proud member of Seahorse Class) has always differentiated between Small School and Giant School. I wait to see what title is given to Senior School (Humungeous School, perhaps?) - but then that’s quite a long way off. 


The Eldest of the Darling Daughters posted a photograph of an empty staircase. “Back to sch....oh, perhaps not!” she wrote. It had, she admitted, got to become a habit over the years. Every September, for many a year, she would post a photo of her girls in their school uniforms posing on the stairs. At first it was just Katie, then it was Katie with sister Eleanor, followed by Eleanor alone. Now both girls have left school - and the staircase is empty for the first time.


Some people take their back to school photos at their front doors. Others in their back gardens. Various accessories are to be seen, ranging from trendy rucksacks to scholarly book bags to go-faster scooters. Each photo is A Moment in Time.


When my Foursome were at school, there was no Facebook to record their first day photos. But I still have in my mind the Eldest of the Darling Daughters in her smart gabardine coat, grinning at the camera as we snapped her in the back garden of our first house in Hillingdon. The first of several First Day At School photos in our family.


Looking out of my kitchen window while washing up yesterday’s saucepans I am puzzled at the timing of the local back to school kids. At 11 a.m. there is a whole procession of smartly attired pupils snaking school-wards along my road. Two hours later, there is another procession, homeward bound, this time of rather older students. I can tell they are older not just on account of their size but also that their uniforms appear to have been, shall we say, adapted? I can only surmise that back to school is a Staggered Affair at our local comprehensive.


Let’s return to that empty staircase for a moment. Is it really a sad reflection on the changing times - or a celebration of moving on? My lovely granddaughters who posed so proudly for their mother, year after year, are up and away, shaping the next chapter of their lives. No school uniform (though Eleanor, about to embark on her medical studies, confesses that the dress code is even stricter than for her Sixth Form.) No more back to school. Just onwards and upwards for both of them.


Don’t worry, parents, when you too, like the Eldest of the Darling Daughters, reach that Empty Staircase Moment. 


It may seem like the end of an era - but it’s the start of a Whole New World. 


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Sally | Reply 24.09.2018 08:25

Beautiful piece. Thank you. Sally

Jaqui 24.09.2018 18:00

I’m glad you liked it, Sally. Jaqui x

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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