Friday, May 16, 2008

Mummy-ometer Meltdown

As Guy is on holiday today and Monday, last night I decided to cook a nice relaxing dinner. So I grilled some steaks, roasted some asparagus, opened a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir and we all sat down for a nice relaxing dinner. Or not….

Just as we were tucking into our food, Alexander took a deep breath and said, “I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I want to go to boarding school for sixth form”.

Sixth form is Grades 12 and 13, so this would be in September 2009 – next year. My Mummy-ometer was going off the scale. Boarding school? Next year?

In my experience women in England fall into three camps when it comes to boarding school. There are those who disapprove of it, thinking it is an outmoded institution for the modern era. That definitely is not me. Then there are those who think it is a wonderful idea, and then there are those who think it is a wonderful idea for other people’s children. I have always fallen firmly into the latter group. Boarding school sounds fantastic, all jolly hockey sticks and that sort of lark, but I never wanted Alex to actually go to one. For the last few months, I had been coasting along nicely, ruminating about how difficult it was going to be when he goes off to university in three year’s time. Suddenly I’m faced with the thought of him virtually leaving home in only a little over a year.

“Would you Darling? Which one exactly?”

Alex replied with the names of two schools, both in the Midlands where we used to live. He has friends at both of them.

Great. Not only does he want to go to boarding school, but he wants to go to boarding school 150 miles away. AAARRRRGHHH!

In the split second I had to think, I remembered my Mom when I said I wanted to go to England. She never once said it was a silly idea, never once discouraged me and never, ever said “I’d rather you didn’t”. She encouraged me without fail for the two years it took me to save up, and then she and my Dad bought my airline ticket for me. They not only encouraged me to make my dreams come true, they facilitated them. So what could I say? It’s a huge investment, but we are in a position to do this for Alex so how can I possibly refuse?

So I told Alex it sounded like a great idea, and said that I’d send off for the Prospectus for both schools in the morning. When he queried how I felt about the whole thing, I remembered my Mom again and said, “Look Alex, Dad and I didn’t have you so that you could stay with us forever. We had you so that you could grow up and fulfil all your dreams.” And I said it without any hesitation or one single tear.

I can understand why Alex wants to go to boarding school. Very few of the kids at his school actually care about their studies and Alex really does want to make something of himself. It is hard to fulfil your potential in the environment he is in at the moment. And even I have said that the only way he was going to sixth form at the school he is at now was over my dead body. Alex needs the kind of focussed environment an independent / private school provides. Alex is going to have to work very hard, and he’ll need to get super results in his GCSE’s to be offered a place at either school. So we needed to contact both schools in order to keep our options open.

And this morning, as promised, I called both schools first thing and set the wheels in motion. I even got in touch with another independent school just to give us another alternative. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a Mum, but you know what? I’m way better at this Mummy stuff than I thought I was…and I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I thought I was too.

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