Well, my brothers, it happened. The 11+ exam at the sought after grammar school in Kingston. I queued up with Son, among a million others, in sheer disbelief that I was going through all this shit again. And once again, I had the urge that I had with daughter, to grab him off some caring prefect and run off into the Christmas crowds. Son's pale, Oliver Twist face looked at me as he and several boys were taken off into some building somewhere. Parents not allowed to go any further.
I go into a well-known coffee shop and catch sight of an acquaintance holding court at a table with a load of mothers. I dimly recalled her son was the same age as mine. Good Grief! She was putting her third child through the exam! I'm finding it hard to do it twice! (Her other two didn't get in). I shake my head in disbelief and go by the river for a good wallow and sulk.
A pair of shoes and a Kath Kidston flannel and a Crabtree and Evelyn bath oil later, I go and collect Son near lunchtime. His face red with misery tells me all and my guts cave in.
"Don't say anything," I tell him, resentful because I didn't want to do this fracking thing in the first bloody place. And we walk along with the crowd of other parents, whose kids actually all looked distraught.
But were the parents dying inside like I was? Son wanted to go to Subway but I'm not sure I could cope with being crushed and that shitty smelly place too. I persuade him to go to Patisserie Valerie. I sit at a table and eat scrambled eggs and feel better. Son has some obscene looking ciabatta thing. He begs me not to go back to school.
Just tell everyone you did okay, I suggest. Its none of their business. Just say it went well. Son opens mouth to speak but I put my hand up, don't say anything it says. I'm more angry at myself that all this shit meant so much to me.
We change the subject. I tell him that all the popstars go to the Soho version of this over-priced cafe. Well, Sparks did anyway. I don't bother explaining who they are.
We go home together and make some fudge. It sticks to the fracking pan. Bastards, all of them!