Apparently some children yearn for school. During the holidays they keep asking when school is going to start again. You hear these stories. You presume there must be some truth to them. You wonder why your children can’t be more like that.

I never much liked school. Well, that’s putting it mildly. For me it was like prison except more boring, more frightening, more understaffed, and in a continuous state of semi-riot.

In fact, I think we should make prison more like school if we want it to be a real deterrent. I suspect that an interminable assembly singing hymns and sitting on a sticky floor that smells vaguely of cheese, followed immediately by the horror of double maths, would really make burglars reassess their life choices. Yes, school seems enormously improved since I was a child, with iPads and teaching assistants, but my children still don’t want to go into the big house.

The decreasing days of festive holiday are like a countdown. We know it’s coming, but we bury our heads in the presents. Each day that goes by we become more excitable, more wild, trying to squeeze out every last drop. Acres of play time. Films and freedom. Chocolate and chasing. And the kids are enjoying themselves too.

Then one cold, grey, damp morning, reality lands on you like an enormous bird poo.

No one is looking particularly happy at the school gate, apart from the odd, odd child, who for some reason is itching to get in.

My son has earache. My daughter has a hurty toe. I deeply sympathise with their pretend illnesses, but their attendance record is not great as it is. I drag them in, telling them how brave they are. And they are. They are truly, truly brave.