Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ground Control to Major Tom

What's wrong with this picture?

It's 2am. Darling husband is sitting upright with the laptop burning through the duvet. I'm attempting to ignore the light, the click-clack of the keyboard, and the humph noises he makes intermittently. Son is sleeping the sleep of the dead. There's an exam tomorrow, it's not my exam, nor my Englishman's, it's Son's mock GCSE electronics exam. 

Hubby, the professional electronics' engineer is preparing son's notes for him, because he has no notes to study from.

Ever since Son's return from NZ three weeks ago, I've nagged every single day for him to study, to find the notes he's missing, to look it up on the internet, but my efforts have not been rewarded by Son's efforts. Thing is, he's not out chasing girls or drinking. He's been banned from the PS3 and he has dutifully sat on his bed looking at the books and the dog's breakfast notes that litter his bedroom floor. But the real problem is, Son's never here. He's in outer space. He's Major Tom and I'm Ground Control trying to make contact.

I never wanted to be that mum. The one that labours over the magnificent matchstick model castle (complete with drawbridge) for their child's year seven homework. I made my kids go home and fashion something out of bits of tinfoil and paper. 

As I've said so many times before;
'It's not my homework. I've had years of homework. I'm done with it'

Yet, exams at this level are different. They matter. They could be the difference between getting into that academic path that leads to a productive career in aerodynamics or not. It's unfair that they matter and that there should be so much pressure on our 15 and 16 year olds, but that's just the way it is.

We've had the circumlocutory argument that goes like this:

Vegemitevix: You just need to focus for this short period of time.

Son: But then what? So I can get into a course and spend the rest of my life doing what other people tell me?

Vegemitevix: Well, no, so you can get the entrance ticket that leads you to where you can do your own research into things you want to do?

Son: When I'm 40 or so!

Why is the theme song of this generation; 'Am I bovered?'

It frustrates me when I think about how focused I was at his age. Yes I spent days lying on the swing chair on the deck watching the clouds, but when exam time came around I did study and I certainly didn't get any help from Mum and Dad. I did worry about how I'd do. I did concentrate, even when my parents' bitter divorce reached crisis point in the middle of my exams. I don't think I was a girlie swot, but I did put the effort in. 

I'm tearing my hair out with his attitude. He's hurtling through space in the tin can of his own mind and I can't seem to bring him home, from my ineffective Ground Control.

How do you get teenagers to understand that they need to concentrate for this very short period in their life, to pass the exams and get the grades that will enable them to get into the course that will lead to the career they might one day actually want to do?

How do you bring Major Tom back down to earth?

Image by Blue Turban Photography


  1. what a great post!! ANd so typical, my daughter is in bed now and its 4 something in the pm....sleeps all the time, not sure if she's ill, can't be arsed or personating emu....

    and if l ask how she is, sleepy she says let me huh?

  2. I'm having that same thing at the moment. I always said I would let them fail if they didn't make any effort, but it's hard to do that.
    My parents weren't involved in any of this for me. I worked hard but I don't even remember them asking where I was applying to go to uni. Not that they weren't interested, but it just wasn't something parents did much then.

  3. What a great post..although my children are grown with grown kids of their own my son is still living in the Ozone...It has to be something about being male..Love your blog..brings back so many memories...

  4. I so remember this stage with Big Bro - I have video footage of him as I used to sneak up to his bedroom window (it was downstairs!!!) and film him doing his revision...only he was reading 'Rugby World' on the bed with the tv on!! They are just on a different radar (is it just boys - possibly!) and it is nigh on impossible to change them - although bribery does work....? Good luck