“Life is precious, and we must enjoy it. Life is for living.”
Words of advice from an Orkney mum who waved her son off on his first day of school.
Lorraine Stout, 48, survived throat cancer and had to shield throughout the pandemic as a result.
Having had 18 months “snatched away”, she feels it’s time to start living again.
And what better way to mark new beginnings than to see her five-year-old son Kian start school.
Kian will have a helping hand at St Andrews School in the east mainland from sister Darcy Mae, eight, who starts P5.
‘Get out there and make the most of life’
Mum Lorraine said: “Life is for living and we all need to remember that.
“We must all take responsibility for our own safety.
“I was a shielder as a result of throat cancer.
“Having had 18 months snatched away from me and my family during treatment and recovery, I am keen that people come to realise that there are all sorts of killer diseases out there, even some contagious ones, and we do not shut ourselves away from those.
“Life is precious, and we must enjoy it. Be sensible and careful, but get out there and make the most of it.
“There will be a tear no doubt as I wave off Kian as he catches the school bus from the bottom of our garden.
“But also a welcome relief that I won’t ever have to do the 10-mile school run twice a day ever again!”
Kian is the third child in the family to undergo the rite of passage into school life, with big brother Cavan, 21, having already finished his schooling.
He previously attended the school’s nursery.
No more home schooling please!
“Kian is the baby of the bunch and the last to head into P1,” added Lorraine.
“He is more than ready for the start of the new term and the move to the ‘big’ school.
“We have been incredibly lucky here in Orkney throughout the pandemic and initial lockdown to have the outside space for our children to enjoy.
“Working from home and home schooling was incredibly challenging and not an experience I would like to repeat.
“It certainly gave me an enhanced respect for our teachers.
“We always knew the staff at St Andrews were fantastic – it’s why we moved to the east mainland of Orkney.
“But we have a new-found admiration for the amount of work they do and were able to come up with virtually during the first lockdown.
“I do not have any concerns meantime – the level of Covid in Orkney has been very low throughout, and our youngest children have learned quickly to adapt.”
If life is for living, Lorraine is looking forward to things getting back to normal.
She added: “Masks, increased hand washing and sanitizing is just a part of their lives now.
“That is a shame though – I do hope at some point we are back to normal soon and there is no longer any need for face coverings and distancing.”
Excited for the ‘big bus’
Kian is most excited about catching the ‘big bus’ with his big sister.
He said: “I am really excited to be getting the bus to school.
“I hope it’s the big yellow bus – Darcy Mae calls that one the banana bus. I can’t wait to see all my friends again and have fun.
“I know I will have to learn more things now. I hope it’s not too much reading and counting!
“I love school dinners too so I’m looking forward to having my favourites again – spaghetti bolognaise, macaroni cheese, beef burgers and fish and chips.”
Asked if he was worried about anything, he gave a simple: “No.”
He obviously agrees with his mum that life is for living.