(Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The key to self-care

Claudia Savage-Gore stays alert and survives by sending the little darlings back to school

Hot House

After weeks of home school hell, it transpired that Will actually qualifies as a “key worker” and so technically the children can return to school. Admittedly we’re using the term loosely (the company Will works for has something to do with oil) but hey. As far as I’m concerned this is a wholly legitimate act of self-care. Survival, actually.

There are only so many hours Google AR animals can fill. Will was against the idea, partly because he’s always been weirdly moral, and partly because he’s not the one actually doing the home schooling. Anyway, I kept alluding to my mental health and crying quietly in bed and after a while he seemed to get that I wasn’t going to back down.

The schools were all completely fine with it. Presumably they’re glad to have full fees coming from anywhere.

And then, after all Will’s reservations, the schools were all completely fine with it. Presumably they’re glad to have full fees coming from anywhere. Interesting piece in the FT, on that note, about how private schools are basically all going bankrupt, partly because since Eton offered a 30 per cent discount all the other schools had to do the same, partly because all the foreign boarders (i.e. the majority) are leaving.

Slightly tricky inaugural school run, because for the past three months Will has been working from home, growing a beard and wearing his Exeter hoody (I know. Exeter!). And obviously this vibe wouldn’t quite fit the “key worker father” line we’ve given the schools. So on Monday he had to shave, put on an actual shirt and drop Lyra and Hector at school in the manner of an urgent front-liner en route to a crucial public service job.

Cue massive grumbling from Will, because usually I do all the school runs (between au pairs, anyway). Frankly I was delighted to see his ear hair sorted.

Gave him strict instructions not to speak at length to any teachers, and to get out fast. As a result he came back with zero useful information about which other children were in school, just that there were “quite a lot of kids”. Baffling because there definitely aren’t any bus driver parents at either school, and only a couple of barristers. Perhaps everyone’s sending their children in on equally tenuous “oil and electricity” grounds. Hopes of one-to-one tuition dashed.

The highlight of my child-free day was telling my psycho Wetherby mother acquaintance that Lyra and Hector are now officially back at school. For some reason, ever since lockdown began, this woman has been emailing me Wetherby’s home-schooling “resources”, as if these are some kind of gold standard we’ve all been waiting to get our pathetic hands on. Anyway, I told her there was no longer any need for her to “go to this trouble,” and added a few random applause and prayer hands emojis.

Meanwhile Minnie is back boarding in Hampshire. To be honest, I have no idea why they sent the boarders home in the first place. If they’re going to be trapped, they may as well be conned to sprawling grounds and Surrey air. Also, surely teenage boarders are used to being trapped? Isn’t the entire point of boarding social isolation?

Put this argument to Will and he said something about his mental health as a result of being sent to Aysgarth at seven, and that I wouldn’t get the “trauma” boarding in inflicts having been to St Paul’s. I asked him why he’d never mentioned this before. He said he had. And then sent me a link to some charity called Boarding School Survivors. For fuck’s sake. Bit late now. Home School Survivors infinitely more relevant anyway, IMO.

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