The Full Stop Day
It was 2007. I'd left teaching after the often thankless task of being a Deputy Head in London to go and live abroad, first Buenos Aires and then Amsterdam. Summer time in The Netherlands came around. It was wonderful. And as I walked Blondie, my Argentinian Golden Retriever, around #Vondelpark, it was the last day of Summer term at school back in England. What was I if I wasn't a teacher anymore? I realised how much I missed the spending the year with my class and watching Year 6 moving on into the wider world. Nothing would ever be the same again for these children. Never so simple. Never so innocent.
I missed being part of that seminal moment so much, I wrote a poem.
Then, only years later, did I realise where the underlying urge and inspiration came from. I'd chosen to bury the memory: on the last day of my own primary school at #TynselParkes in #Uttoxeter, I was ill. I'd never had a day off but on that one final day, I was too ill to go to school. I experienced the pain of regret for the first time in my life; I lay in my parent's bed and cried.
My primary school was behind my house and that evening, my teacher, Mr. Dix, came to see how I was and brought all my old books home. Teachers could be magic in the 1970's. They can still be magic now. (Mr Dix once cancelled lessons to take us all sledging on snowy day - you couldn't do that today.)
Anyway, I've always regretted missing that day. I'm 50 now. I still wonder how my memories would be different and what I'd remember if I'd gone into Tynsel Parkes on that seminal rites of passage day.
Lost days like these can influence your life forevermore. So in 2009, 40 years on from my lost last day at primary school and 2 years since I'd left my teaching job, children all over the U.K were once again getting ready to experience their last day of primary school. I was sitting in Amsterdam's #Vondelpark with Blondie snoozing in the shade by my feet.
It was time for me to finally reclaim my lost last day, in my imagination at least. Is there a better place?
So I found my tatty notebook, under the shopping in my panniers and began to write. I called the poem The Full Stop Day, for what comes after a full stop? A new sentence; a fresh paragraph and an unread new chapter. For me, for them, for everyone.
This poem was written to fuel and celebrate this incredible rites of passage moment and is dedicated to the child that I was and to all the children who would come after.
And guess what? I am teaching once more and now I have a #FullStopDay every year.
Does that make up for me missing my own #FullStopDay all those years ago? I think it does, yes. 🙂
Update: Uh-Oh Read the 2021 poem below The Full Stop Day ...
Update 2021: Our year 6 bubble was closed this week so Year 6 and I were denied our final week of primary school: another chapter in #TheFullStopDay story... so I did the only thing I could, I wrote them a poem, Burst Bubbles, to comfort and inspire.
No last week
No last day
No last laugh
No last say
No last chase
No last play
No big deal
No one’s hurt
Blow a billion
Burst the bad
Chase the rest
Some will pop
Some will fade
Burst in brains
A bubble blown
Does not stop
A memory made
Does not pop
Mark Bird 2021
Bring on #TheFullStopDay 2022!