I’ve never made any secret of the fact that when it comes to being a parent, I have been winging it. I had no clue about anything when T was a baby, I had no clue what to do when A was a tantrum–fuelled toddler, I had no clue what to do when T was choosing his options. I just winged it and I will continue to wing it and hope that it works out OK. It’s been a bit touch and go over the years but on the whole (touch wood and all that) it’s not been too bad a job and they seem pretty happy.
I had a letter today regarding sets for English for A for next school year. She is going into a Higher Ability set and over the holidays she needs to read some “challenging literature” (I notice they use words like literature and not books when they are in a Higher Ability set) and that she needs to return to school “ready to share her geographical, historical and spiritual experiences from over the summer”.
I’m so proud of my girl for doing so well and getting herself into this set. I am proud that she is seen as an able student and that she is hopefully going to respond well to the new challenges that this will bring.
But, as a parent, I am already wondering how I am going to be able to support her. I was OK at English at school. I mean, I love to read. I have read some classics, for pleasure, but don’t remember doing so well at dissecting/critiquing/interpreting texts when I was at school. I just liked to read.
“Share her geographical, historical and spiritual experiences”. What? We’re off to Dorset for a week. Will that do?
I don’t want to let her down. I’m not educated past A’Level and I don’t have an academic mindset. Will I be of any use whatsoever? Will she need me to be? Will I have what it takes to help her through this?
* While I am writing this the postman has been with a letter from school. I thought it might be a paper version of the email about the sets. No, it’s a letter telling me A has been nominated to take part in the Scholar programme for English and D&T. She will be encouraged to “develop a growth mindset”, to “maximise her potential”, to “develop her perseverance skills”. *
The older my kids get, the more difficult it feels to be just winging it. It’s not so easy to answer questions any more. I can’t dumb stuff down because the stuff they need answers to isn’t “which is your favourite Lego mini-figure” any more. Sometimes it’s about terrorism, it’s about politics and this s**t is real. It needs more than a quick off the cuff answer. I have to REALLY listen to them now and not just with half an ear. This may be the time that they tell me something REALLY important and I need to be listening. Leading by example seems more crucial now than ever before – this is about more than just good table manners and being polite to their friends’ parents. I can’t be seen to be a slacker, or a giver -upper (BUT I AM!) because how can I then ask them to try harder, to give a bit more? It’s getting to the stage where they know more than me. The answers I give are questioned, negotiated with and, often, ignored. Do they know that I don’t know?
I know that I worry more than I should. I know that I probably over think stuff. But I’ve only got one shot at this, and I don’t want to get it wrong.