I guess lots of people will be sharing their stories, so here is ours.
The weather at 7.30 this morning looked very promising with sunshine and blue skies; however it’s not the best time to encourage me outside when I’m frantically trying to wake myself up with a cup of tea and get two sleepy children to get ready for school. By the time I dropped them off at five to nine the temperature had plummeted and the wind and rain were beating against the car windscreen. I had warned M exactly what an eclipse could be like in case it got very dark and she was scared, but she seemed content so I didn’t say too much. With an autistic child, it’s difficult to know just how to pitch some conversations but I thought she would be OK. Some daft notion made me slip their special eclipse glasses into their school bags “just in case.”
I came home and grabbed a coffee, then noticed that the sun was trying to break through again. I took my lenses and headed outside. The weather was indeed perking up.
I managed to pry L from her bed (poor girl is still totally exhausted and unwell) but she was less than impressed with the view through the glasses, unlike me who was thrilled that the sun was now a sliver of orange. Even though it was freezing I kept going back outside to have another look.
Obviously I didn’t try and capture the sun with my rubbish phone camera but I did take a few shots as the sky went some weird colours, although it doesn’t really look like it here.
Then I had the idea to ring the school and let them know that B and M had the special glasses in case it was possible to let them share. Turns out the Head Teacher was delighted and marshalled the kids outside two at a time for a glimpse. My two got instant popularity status for enabling this, although I suspect the PE teacher will have been less than impressed to have her class so rudely interrupted! This is my two who made their way into the weekly newsletter (photo shamelessly nicked from that)
I was quite underwhelmed with how dark it didn’t get, as I remember in 1999 and some time back when I was in primary school myself, it had been a lot more impressive. But then again, both those times I didn’t have funky specs so I could stare directly at the sun. In fact, having called my mum to check my memory wasn’t defective, she was able to tell me that my primary school had sent every child home with a piece of smoked glass (can you imagine the outcry if a school did that now?) and a note detailing how to watch the eclipse.
I carried on nipping out to check the progress of the moon across the sun, and lent my specs to a couple of passers-by who were astounded how different it looked through them. By then I was more interested in the beach and how it looked in the strange light – with the noise of the waves crashing on the shore I hadn’t noticed that all the birds had stopped singing (which apparently they had) but I love this picture.
Cue two happy excited children when they burst out of school at three o’clock today and according to the head, lots of other happy children who thought the whole thing was “amazing.” I’ve just been speaking on twitter to someone who said the head at their school had insisted all the blinds were to be closed and no-one would be watching due to health and safety. They didn’t even get to watch on TV like ours did. That made me very sad; education is not just about bums on seats and book learning, it should be about grabbing opportunities and making the most of the unexpected when it falls into your lap. This is one of those days when I am fervently grateful that even with little money and relatively few facilities, this tiny village school once again has shown me that it is the right place for my children.