Monday, 22 March 2010

Thoughts from the Ivory Towers...

Phew, what a wonderful dialogue we got going there around edumacation, thanks guys!

We really put ourselves through the mill over this, don't we? We only want what's best for them in life, and we beat ourselves up over their perceived short-comings and any hurdles they might encounter...

As has been previously disclosed here, I played a major walk-on role in my son's UCAS personal statement, given his severe allergic reactions to anything that involves ink...

I don't want to be one of those ambitious, pushy parents, standing and cheering on from the theatre wings as my ginger mop-haired darling launches into another ear-piercing verse of "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you're only a day awaaaaaaay!"

But I'm conscious of having to strike that balance between allowing Grizz to be a grown-up (he's now 18), and needing to somehow direct his lack of direction somewhat...

Just this week, while I was mired in paperwork in the office, playing the Fierce Momma Paper-Tiger - I was halted in my tracks by a call from his passionate and professional music tutor. Turns out this is a moment of real crisis in his study. With only months to go to his final performance and theory exams, he's choosing to procrastinate, to shirk his studying responsibilities, and is stalling for time. Time he just doesn't have.

And I really can't do the work for him. I already have my A Levels. I have a degree. He has to choose to independently spend time studying himself. I can create the tranquil moments - between the hours spent on MSN and Youtube - in which the time is right to sit and work in peace. I can ensure he has the right books and equipment. I can draw his attention to a serious TV documentary about the earthquake in Haiti, because he's also having to 'gen up' on natural disasters for his Geography A Level. ...But I can't force him to do this. And yet he's still too young to understand why he ought to be doing this.

Of course, I want him to have the very best chances in life, much as we all do. ...However, my own experience being the first member of my family to make it to University, was of graduating in the Eighties, amid boom and bust, a dire period much like today, I fear.

I absotively, posilutely adored and devoured whole slices of my degree course (the English, French and Russian literature, and the first Film Studies course ever offered at my Uni), and almost suffered a nervous breakdown during my final German oral exam in my second year (my worst!), when I failed to understand the clunky, heavily-accented German of the Austrian Lehrerin...

Then I graduated and spent months trying to find a permanent job, working as a temp in a variety of mediocre offices near to London, until I found a permanent post. All of this, bien sur, is almost 30 years ago now. And Grizzler's own experiences thirty years on may be very different to mine. I hope.

So I care and cajole, I cuss and curse, I beg and occasionally I resort to bribes, I reason and, of course, I rant.

And, ignoring my pagan leanings, I pray.


  1. Such troubling times ... both personally and globally...and our mother 'default' setting, the care for, encourage, worry about one, does'nt switch off when our beloved offspring reach 18.....but as long as we continue to care, cajole, encourage etc., then all will be well we hope...

  2. I let EBD write her own personal statement, and the other letter of support asked for by one uni. It feckin killed me not to be writing it for her, I'm sure there's some admissions tutor somewhere thinking how thick her parent is !!!!

  3. A few of my friends had to do all this last year and told stories of sitting up with their teen till 2am, filling out forms and writing essays with them. I swore I wouldn't do that, and am still determined not to. HOwever, a few weeks ago she applied for a summer journalism course which is really hard to get onto. The application was like a college app, and sure enough she left it and left it until I was almost screaming at her. Why do they do this?