Last week, my youngest children joined the sixth form at their school. After much moaning, they condescended to stand in the garden and have their photograph taken in their school uniform to mark the event. "Why Mum?", they complained. Because it's only two weeks since I took you to nursery school - or at least, that's how it feels!
This is the start of the new year for me. Twenty four years of autumn terms marking new school years and so we begin again. Twenty four years done and only two to go before the last two flee the nest (probably) and twenty eight years of hands-on, sleeves-up parenting will have come to an end. It's all a bit scary really.
So whilst I am spring cleaning (yes, really!) and getting into those bedrooms which have been almost impenetrable for the last two months - either because they were occupied till nearly lunchtime by comatose teenagers or because, even if I could get in the door, I couldn't find the carpet to vacuum it - I have been looking back on what has been a really epic summer in so many ways.
Cricket and tennis started the summer here with training done and matches played, or not, between showers, and sport was rationed according to GCSE study demands. Then there were the dreaded exams which seriously stretched my maternal resources. I never cracked the conundrum of what to say when one twin gets in the car, post-exam, and tells me it was cool, paper finished, read through and all fine and then the other one gets in and says that it was a nightmare, didn't get to the last question and how everyone thought it was impossible. Nope, still don't know what to say...
Once the exams were behind us, we galloped off to America for our fabulous trains and boats and planes trip to Chicago, San Francisco, California and Las Vegas. Lots of lovely and amazing memories to be stored up for ever and a really special time with children 3 and 4 who will, like the swallows who have crapped all over the garden shed floor, be gone before we know it.
Then a few weeks at home before our great trip to name the house in Guernsey and stay with our brilliant and very dear friends in their amazing new home. And of course, those weeks were completely dominated by the Olympics - more wonderful, more emotional, more just jubilantly British than anyone could possibly have imagined - except maybe Boris Johnson who clearly has a mind differently wired from anybody else. Perhaps his terrific bonkersness is a sort of embodiment of how we are perceived across the world. Who knows?
For me, so ridiculously and often irrationally patriotic at the best of times, I have spent more time in front of the telly, frequently in tears, than I care to admit. But not a moment wasted because those extraordinary Olympians and Paralympians are such an antidote for our celebrity-stained world. And of course, we actually went to the Games. I have met so many people recently who didn't go through the tortuous process of trying to get tickets and who now so bitterly regret it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime.
And so to a rather traumatic results day (parents of twins: you will know what I mean) and we have YES! got a full set of GCSEs and despite some rather hasty A-level-choice-switching to play to our new-found strengths, the term has now begun and life is returning to something like normal.
I could and nearly did write this blog last week but there was one final piece of the jigsaw for me and I didn't want to tempt fate by predicting it. A few weeks ago, someone asked me for a stand-out memory of the Olympics. This is a tough question and after quite a bit of thought and a whole host of possible choices, I came up with the moment when Andy Murray won gold. No question, it was the only prize in tennis Roger Federer has never won and he wanted it but Andy denied him and the British public, for once, were behind him all the way. They called it the fifth slam and it was, so imagine how thrilled and delighted I am that Andy has now won the US Open. When he said his overwhelming feeling was one of relief he spoke for us all!