I might be 31, married with two children, two mortgages, and a Ford Focus in a sensible colour, but it has taken until now for me to find something that makes me feel like a grown-up. Actually, that's a lie. It doesn't make me feel like a grown-up, it makes me want to run away and hide my head under a duvet and pretend that this is something I don't have to think about.
It is time to apply for schools. I am in a state of disbelief over this. I thought I had years before I had to think about the whole business, but, as it turns out, those years have somehow happened without me really noticing, and now I have to apply for schools. I have already put off the preliminary thinking that most of my friends have already done on the subject when they were deciding on pre-schools, and I kept The Big'un in the nursery she was already at (for practical reasons, not just because I was procrastinating). But now there is no escape. I must do The Thinking.
And there is apparently much thinking to be done. Much thinking and reading and listening and researching and deciding. One must consider league tables and Ofsted reports and catchment areas and over-subscription criteria and appeals processes. Somehow, it is necessary to become a sudden expert in what makes a "good" school and how to spot one. Because, if you listen to just about anyone, it is the most important decision you will ever make in your whole life and if you get it wrong your child will be doomed to a terrible and depressing life. And you're only making the decision about which ones to apply for. Then someone else gets to decide which one you will actually get a place at.
It all makes me angry and tired. I could, were I in the mood, launch into a lengthy political rant about how terribly wrong it is that every child can not just walk into their nearest school and be assured of a decent education, about how much pressure is put on parents to make great sacrifices and go to great lengths in order to secure a place at a good school, but this is neither the time nor the place for such tirades, and I am trying to watch Cool Runnings. So, instead, I extend my sympathies to all parents out there who are applying this year. I look forward to the day my application goes in and I can stop worrying about it. And start worrying about how the hell I am going to get my child somewhere, dressed and with all the appropriate paraphernalia, for 9am, FIVE DAYS IN A ROW. I need a lie down at the very thought.