There are many advantages to living next door to a school. The natural alarm clock that is the morning school run. Seeing the moments only parents normally get to experience - first day, bad day, home-early-feeling-sick day. The constant reminder that life used to be divided into such tiny chunks. (Really, it's amazing they get to do any actual learning in between all those breaks...)
Of course there are disadvantages, which include potty-mouthed parents, litter blowing over the wall into our garden and a constant refrain of "MISS! CAN WE HAVE OUR BALL BACK?!?!" every single time I go home for lunch. But still.
One of the benefits I noticed today (whilst walking home for lunch - when do I do any work?) was being reminded of stuff I had forgotten. Specifically, that most exciting of events known mysteriously as 'cycling proficiency'. Even the word, 'proficiency.' It's got to be the only time that word is used in a sentence.
Cool stuff like that gets pushed out when you get older, one-in, one-out style: in goes another internet password, PLOP! Out goes a times table. In goes a useless piece of marketing jargon, PLOP! Out go the lyrics to the first musical you were in (Wizard of Oz - I was a flower. Aaah).
I watched over the playground fence as they wobbled around, cycling helmets on (another thing I haven't used since school), attempting to ride one-handed and learning how to move to the middle of the road ("what?! IN FRONT of the cars?!") when turning right...it all came flooding back.
I'm still not sure what I was most proud of, that I managed to get through my test without wobbling off, or the shiny green rectangular badge I got at the end of it, that I wore proudly on my school jumper for ooh, at least a week, until I realised it wasn't "cool" which was why I was the only one wearing it. Even then I only downgraded it to my pencil case.
It got me to thinking of the other things I probably learned and have since forgotten - like how to convert pounds into kilograms, how to make a dove joint, what pipe cleaners are for or the first time I read a story all by myself (when did I learn to read? I imagine that was a pretty cool eureka moment, but I've yet to find anyone who can objectively remember the exact point they worked it out. Weird).
Anyway, I'm not one for pointless nostalgia but it was nice for a moment to remember how little things like that were so exciting.
And besides, I reckon the impact of school sticks with us in even more profoundly biological ways. Like the 3.30-4pm slump. A narrow but distinct window during which my body gives up and only caffeine or chocolate (or both) will get me through to the end of the working day. Try telling me that's got nothing to do with my body still being fine tuned to the sound of the school bell...