What I Go To School For

I have always been wary about writing about my kids ever since my oldest, Annalie was born.

She arrived half way through a stint I was doing as stand in host on a Radio Two show and my natural shiny, new enthusiasm for the world was slightly tarnished by a comment sent to the studio which said, “Tell Coia to shut up. People have had babies before. It’s no big deal.”

I can still remember the deflation I felt as my spirit of joy gave way to a feeling of wanting to hunt this listener down and bombard him with cake and flowers in an effort to make him see the world in the same warm, fuzzy tones that I did. Had Google maps existed then he would have been bullied by niceness. If that hadn’t worked I would have fallen back on sharing dirty nappies through his letter box.

Anyway, eighteen years on, that same baby has just started university, and I’m hoping that the grumpy listener has learned about the happy things in life and has now joined The Samaritans to spread peace and joy - or suffers from halitosis and huge haemorrhoids. I’m not bothered which.

University is about learning, and our trip there certainly was an education for me. The journey with a car full of girlie stuff was eye opening. As I packed the car I wondered who needs THREE embroidered pillows and why does the mattress need a feather duvet covering, as well as another proper duvet on top of my sleeping daughter? Does she really need a coffee maker or a corkscrew? Why the fairy lights? And what of the many boxes of lotions and potions, skin cleansers and makeup? My suggestion that if she gave up wearing cosmetics then she wouldn’t need cleansers and we could fit three more people in the car, met with hostility. I’ve no idea why.

I’m not sure my daughter will adapt well to student life for two, major reasons. Firstly she now has to share a toilet with four others, and for someone who wants to start earning just so she can pay someone to follow her with an ermine lined, heated, toilet seat wherever she goes, this may be a problem. Secondly she doesn’t like curry. The words student and curry go together like bread and wine, food and nourishment, fresh air and health, and me and chocolate. The vouchers waiting in her dorm offering discounts on Korma and Tikka Massala might just get used to clean the toilet seat, but that’s about all.

Through the wonders of Skype we speak to her most days and, not to be too much of a worried parent here, she seems to be losing weight. This may have something to do with the fact she puts food in the oven at her digs but forgets to switch the thing on. For this reason she was eating cold pizza the other night at eleven p.m. before heading out to a club. Midnight used to be sleepy time in her world, now it’s time to get the party started.

So where does her studies figure in all this? Er, not too sure. She seems to have a couple of lectures a day, Friday off, as well as weekends, and she hasn’t managed a full lecture yet. Her first session found her sitting in the wrong lecture theatre. When she realised, she left and wandered in to a meeting of the Islamic Student Council, before arriving at her proper lecture soaking wet from running through rain showers, just in time to hear her tutor say “Thank you for coming, see you next week.”

At home my fiercely independent daughter would refuse help and insist she could do anything I could do. She was going to prove in life that girlies are every bit as hands on and useful as boys. Since arriving at Uni she’s joined the cheerleading squad and told me not to worry about the new printer I sent as she’d get one of the boys to plug it up for her.

Perhaps further education really is teaching her something after all. Forget the lectures. Learning how to use her feminine wiles is a lesson that her mum graduated in with first class honours and I think history may be repeating itself.