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I didn’t realise it was a punishment

Posted on 07 August 2010

I didn’t realise it was a punishment.I ran home to my mother at lunchtime to make sure she was still there When I went back in the afternoon I read books. I was wearing a white frilly blouse, a little Royal Stuart tartan kilt, kiltie shoes with big silver buckles on the front, and a big ribbon which looked like I had a budgie on my head.I remember I was getting up quite excited because my big brother was already there and school I remember getting all dressed up in that bloody outfit. Her hair, which she’s been wearing long and wild all summer, is in a neat, sensible ponytail There is not a single trace of the baby left in her face. But now the big day has arrived, it is Pandora herself who shocks me.There’s half an hour to go before we have to leave but she’s already standing at the door, gazing with admiring disbelief at her shiny navy shoes and her new navy pinafore. When did this transformation happen, and why didn’t I notice it? I do not ask this question out loud, but Frank seems to be thinking it, too, because after a very quiet breakfast, he says that he wants to come too.He takes a picture of Pandora alone outside our door, and then he takes another picture of her with her almost six-year-old sister, Helen, as they head up the path.

Come September 1997, we won’t have to pay for childcare anymore and our outgoings will be cut in half. We’ll be able to start clearing our debts, stop working quite so hard, remember how to breathe.Pandora is the second child of a second family. My eldest is already at university, so it feels as if we’ve been at this forever. It’s hard to imagine what life is like for people who don’t have little children, and it’s hard to believe that we’re soon to rejoin their ranks. We are all heading for a nasty learning curve.The older children darting past us are so large, rough and careless. What if one of them ploughed into her and cracked her head open?by Maureen FreelyThings will be easier once she starts school For four years now, this has been our mantra.

Not to worry about the huge sums we’ve had to shell out for nannies, childminders and nurseries. Pay no attention to that stack of letters from irate bank managers, concerned credit card companies and unpaid accountants. She has tried on the new school skirt and discovered it is an inch below the knee. Aaarrgh! Sophie knows it is social death to have a skirt anything longer than two inches above the knee.

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