Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Barely days into a new term and already there is dissent in the lower ranks.
“Speak for yourself” says Hubby gaily. The males of the household are the only ones with a kick in their heels; it would seem that having a kettle in one’s office and a microwave in one’s common room is all a man requires to be contented.
My son is delighted with his role as sixth former and the perks that come with it. Who knew such joy could be found in walking off the school grounds, spending one’s dinner money on a Pot Noodle or pasty before returning to school to chill out in the ‘relaxation’ area. I hate to dampen his spirits so soon into the new school year, there will be plenty of time for that, so I’ve bitten my tongue regarding his ‘A’ levels thus far and have resisted the urge to point out that the sixth form centre is not an extension of his bedroom but an area, and I quote from his Sixth Form Guidelines: Where you can quietly focus on your studies.
Conversely, the girls in this family are not as happy. My eldest daughter has found much to her dismay, that several of her new teachers are exceedingly dull. I doubt very much that they are but she has exacting standards. I would hate to teach her. Besides, she knows a darned sight more about an abundance of subjects than I and rolls her eyes heavenward if I so much as question anything that I really ought to be well versed in.
“God mummy, you are so thick”, is a mantra of hers when in a foul mood; the more patronising, if slightly less brutal, “Poor you, you can’t be expected to know everything”, when in a good one. So unless the teachers make every lesson thrilling and dynamic she will continue to return home, slump into a chair and complain bitterly. After only a few days I am finding it increasingly difficult to jolly her along given her sighing heavily into one ear, the 7 year old in the other and the whole time the reverberation of loud rock music, playing on my son’s laptop, vibrates through my inner soul.
“What’s the matter with you then?”, I asked the seven year old, having by now lost my rag with the teenage one and she having lost hers with me, resulting in the dishwasher remaining unemptied and her stomping furiously up the stairs, muttering something about child labour under her breath.
“I have to build a shelter”, she replied. I’d like to flee to one, I almost answered.
“What sort of shelter darling?”, I asked instead, finding it in me somewhere, the oomph to sound encouraging and interested.
“For a caveman”.
“But darling surely, by the very nature of their name, i.e CAVE man, they already had shelters?”
“Well maybe they were the first to enjoy outdoor living so they had shelters as well as a cave, sort of like a gazebo”.
“Ok then. Well what sort of thing did they make their shelter from?” This is the worst type of homework. The one where you have to get actively involved and cannot just sit there reading out a list of words and hoping in return, that they’ll spell them correctly. Mags’s son once had to make a model of their house. Of course, he didn’t get on with finding an old cereal packet and some Pritt stick and construct some rudimentary but self-made effort. Not on your Nelly. Mags’s father-in-law, a retired carpenter, spent a week in his shed, which he was relieved to do, sawing, filing and erecting a true replica of their beautiful, Victorian, terraced house. He got a special mention in assembly. Mag’s son that is, not granddad. Surely any teacher worth their salt could see through his offering. Little Johnny in the front row, who hasn’t a bespoke cabinet maker for a granddad and who had made his house out of the aforementioned cereal box, certainly could.
“Sticks and leaves and straw and stones”.
“Wow, a luxurious gazebo”, I replied.
“Can we go and forage then please. We can take the dog”. Great, just what I needed, a walk in the rain, with a damp dog who will be utterly over-enthusiastic in finding sticks and who will no doubt have ingested most of them by the time we get home.
An hour later we returned, having been driven ragged by, just as I thought, a dog who found foraging the best game. Like, ever.
“What? We’re collecting these stick things? We are actually bringing them home? As toys? For my own delectation and entertainment? Why this is just too much, too exciting for words. My, oh my! Why I must bark and bark and run around and around in circles and try and catch my tail! I must try and communicate my sheer, unconfined delight!”
I left our wellies in the hall with a panting dog and just one of his beloved sticks and walked into the kitchen. My seven year old was counting her stones, “We just need straw now”. Luckily the chair of the PTA is the local farmers wife, and although I was only half joking when I said I’d do anything on the committee in return for a handful of straw, my heart sank to my shoes when I read the minutes of the meeting that I’d been late for.
Really, I’m happy to help with most things. Make fudge, mull some wine, man a stall, erect some trestle tables, even organise a coach trip but find raffle prizes for the Christmas draw? It’s a detestable task.
“You’ll get fab prizes. You’ve got friends in high places,” the committee joshed.
That’s as maybe but I can’t imagine that a tour of Her Majesty’s Naval Base is everyone’s idea of a winning ticket. Then again, you never know.


Anonymous said...

Teenagers! My teen-girl - just started Yr10 - came home the other day, house shook as she slammed, the door, keys thrown savagely into the bowl, flung everything down, face like thunder, growled at me when I tentatively asked what was the matter - I thought the worst - no just a hot classroom!

DL said...

The new term saw our two youngest both in new - different - schools, and our son newly entering the sixth form. Amazingly, all three loved their new environments from the outset, and still continue to do so. Homeworks are done without battles (and we're now getting the odd juicy further maths problems to get our teeth into as well). Although parenthood continues to bring its challenges, motivating these three to school is not currently one of them. Long may it last!

Best wishes,

Sally said...

He understates in the extreme that husband of mine. Challenging is NOT the word for teen parentood. A new word shouldb e invented!