DON’T BE BORN IN AUGUST

I have been sitting in front of the computer for the last hour doing all those things one does to avoid actually committing words to screen. And this in a way is simply a continuation of that process. Yes it is ‘writing’ but almost in the same way making a shopping list is ‘writing’.

I should be finishing Cinderella (or whatever it will be called if I ever get past the working title/work in progress stage). That is proving a much tougher not to crack than I thought it would be however. It’s not that I don’t know where it’s going or how it ends. Nor am I unhappy with what has managed to get on the flash drive so far. But getting from here to there without detours is proving inordinately difficult. I am beginning to suspect that what I had imagined was a c30,000 word novella to fit with ‘Wolf!’ has in fact a much longer story trying to break out. I guess the problem is do I go with that (and what do I do with it, if it is there? And what do I put in its place in the anthology of fairy tale based stories?). If I do, see parentheses.  I think not, on the whole. It ends up being indulgent. I think I just need to wrestle it into submission.

I have in fact wandered off the point of this note anyway.

Which was: don’t be born in August.

I am and so is my son.

I started off school in 1960 as the oldest in my class – which was great. Then at the end of year three I moved schools and discovered that the cut off date for which year you were supposed to be in had moved.  All of a sudden I was supposed to be in the year ahead. The previous school were supposed to have moved me half way through the year so I only missed half the curriculum. But they hadn’t. So I skipped a whole year. It was pretty traumatic, but I survived. And yet it has only recently occurred to me what a gibbering piece of bureaucratic nonsense this was.

They moved the date for entry. Okay. But why did this affect me in a retrospective manner? Would it have hurt to allow me to remain with my cohort of the first three years? As the eldest I felt confident, physically capable of handling everything that came down the road at me and on top of the world. It would have been difficult enough had I been almost a year younger than most people from the start but I guess any cut off does that. But to suddenly move everything forward a year was really harsh. I was a year behind in most things, bullied by loads of people who were all older than me, and doubly so when they found out I was more capable than them academically yet a year younger. I lost so much confidence in that one summer that I am not sure I ever made up the loss.

What prompted all that reminiscence?

I just left my son at his first (and I hope not last) day at summer playscheme. He was quite keen beforehand, but the friend he had been meant to go with was sick this morning. I offered him the chance to miss today but he said he wanted to try it alone.

The first question was ‘How old are you?’ The answer ‘7, but 8 in August’ caused a cloud to flit across the assistant’s face.

The scheme is split into age ranges and naturally being born in August still creates that tension of which group you should be with. Conaire is currently the youngest in his class at school. I am hoping he slides into the younger group and becomes the eldest in this scheme, but I suspect that if and when he sees other friends from his peer group at school he will end up again as the youngest.

Studies, (where would we be without them!) suggest that being born a day or so either side of such cut offs make a huge difference to life. Confidence, emotional security, academic achievement can all be considerably skewed by the chance of which day you were born on. And also birthdays are rubbish when you are away from school and people are all away on holiday.

I’m thinking that for the sake of their future children, potential parents would be well advised to exercising self control and abstinence during the build up to Christmas.

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