I was not a model pupil.
Although I was not a naughty child I did not willingly fit in to the pre-formulated pathway the nuns at the convent had planned out for me. Coming from a catholic background meant I was a “special” pupil and it was their sole purpose to convince me to follow them in to the church. My aspirations refused to be restrained in their restrictive direction. The nuns did have other acceptable callings for me; nursing, teaching and if all else failed housewife.
I would never take away from any of these wonderful caring and selfless vocations that take far more from a person than just intelligence. I needed more choice and even then lacked the good grace to just conform for a peaceful life. I was determined to leave my mark on the world. My literacy report year in year out complained; “She has such a vivid imagination but needs to spend less time in
her mind and do what is asked in the question.” I am still blessed with that wonderful imagination but now I use it creatively and one day will be awarded by seeing one of my books in print. If the nuns were still alive now I would send them all a signed copy. Unfortunately with no new novices joining the convent, the school closed as the nuns departed this world.
Looking back now I feel sorry for the head teacher, she tried so hard to persuade me to quash my desire to become a mechanical engineer, to keep me on the path of righteousness and steer me towards the servitude of others. I did get away with so many rebellious defiant actions although today these would be termed as independence, initiative and inspiration. The head did succeed in some ways; I never became an engineer. I left school as soon as I was allowed for my own home based gap years. Dutifully I learned to be a secretary at my mother’s insistence that I at least had something to fall back on. Then spent a glorious year earning and spending, partying and enjoying all the freedom I then had. Finally I did go into nursing but what the school had not prepared me for was life; real, hard and emotional life. I didn’t stay!
Like many mothers across the country it will be another momentous heart wrenching July as my son moves schools, the preparations have already started.
We were invited to take Mini Son to an open evening at the local Top school to show him around. Taken into the hall with hundreds of other parents, nervous 10 year olds and a few older students milling around; we were told how transition would work with his current school. Following the initial introduction we were split into groups and two sixth formers led us around. Unfortunately No 1 Son had too much homework to join his classmates and there was never any promise that he would have been our tour guide had he been available.
Having two boys already there we have been through this evening twice before. There were parents of mini son’s friends who found it all new and overwhelming that their eldest would soon be moving on. I remember the first evening we had come with No 1 to visit. It seems only yesterday and somehow I must have missed it but he has been right the way up through the school and now settling into sixth form has his next step; university in his sights.
Standing in a neat group at the edge of the climbing wall; a teacher invited the children to step forward and have a go. A shyness that I had not seen before descended over the friends, the chatter ceased and the class mates stepped subtly behind their parents. I pushed Mini Son forward slightly whispering that he should try. Once he had taken the first step he was overtaken by the torrent of eager friends racing to get to the top first.
Shyness abandoned he gelled with the music teacher who was delighted when he discovered Mini Son is learning the saxophone. Mini Son in turn was bursting with enthusiasm to find the tiny recording studio and drama theatre. Finding his own way over to the pottery wheel he began turning it and demonstrating to the other young faces how to use it. He has never to my knowledge used a potter’s wheel although he has made clay cups and pots at primary school.
He may not be my first but I felt that same pull of emotional heartstrings as I watched my youngest race around the complex trying his hand at setting fire to the strips of liquid soaked accelerant. The awe erupting over his delighted face as the multi-coloured flames leapt into the air.
Moving over to the generator I watched Mini Son hold a shining silver surface. As we watched and the other children round us began laughing his hair stood to attention mimicking the wonderfully eccentric Dr Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future series. Still mad professor like he was guided to a pile of tiny screwed up paper balls the size of peas, which I had assumed were bits of paper bored pupils had played with instead of listening. As the now excitable group round him watched; the paper balls began juggling around and leaping up towards his extended hand.
I have no worries about him fitting in and loving the facilities available to him as he completes this momentous year of transition. It will be me that will find it hard to say goodbye to primary schooling after 12 years. Letting go and allowing him to take his own faltering steps into this wide world. I know the school will equip him better to deal with the future than mine did.
Looking back at my schooling maybe school and I might have not have had such an antagonistic relationship if there had been a few more facilities to stretch my creative imagination. Where would I be today with my independence encouraged, my initiative rewarded and my inspiration fuelled?
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