Thursday 25 August 2022
This Thursday, the gentle giant, affectionately know as Smallboy, collects his GCSE results … and they are cracking!
The entire squad bundles down to school for support, crammed into my Eldest’s 3-door car, (alas, Windsor is recovering from an encounter with a bollard in Bolton … a story for another day) because, that is what we do and because we all get it. Get the pressure of high expectation from: school, friends, family. Everyone expecting you to have done well, to have ‘sailed through‘ to have ‘smashed it’. It is a lot to bear at the age of 16 and the car journey is pretty quiet.
Our phone clocks move to 09:00. The school doors open. Off he goes and, after 3 years of blessed GCSE respite, it is ‘welcome back’ to that tortuous wait in the car for me! Smallboy later tells me that,
I kind of knew it had gone well mum because as I went through the doors one of the teachers told me to ‘wait behind at the end for a photograph’
But there is none of this reassurance for those left outside. Stomach churning, I waive aside my daughters’ suggestions of ‘music‘ or ‘playing a game‘. I try some experimental ‘positive chanting’ but soon fall back upon the familiar and am completing my fourth decade of the rosary when we see him ambling across the carpark, giving us a shy thumbs up and hopping back into the front seat.
It is simply a super set of grades! He gives a modest shrug, his face breaks into a smile, I ruffle his curly locks and we head off for a Maccies breakfast to celebrate.
And so, as a parent, my encounter with GCSE examinations, revision and results days comes to an end. Three very different experiences, not so much with the results days but with the examination period itself. This final one, without doubt, the most laid back and … let me get down with the kids and say, ‘chilled’ ever. Few dramas and a very relaxed (which I found alarming on occasion) approach to revision. Typically, I’d arrive home and open with,
Have you started revision yet? You’ve got Chemistry tomorrow
To which my son would usually reply along the lines of,
Don’t stress mother, it’s only 7pm… plenty of time!
I did put my foot down, on several occasions, about mid-week socialising but he still went out most weekends. I also supported the schools insistence on attendance and did not consent to my son’s pleas to ‘phone and ask for study leave’.
Did any of it make a jot of difference? I guess we shall never know. But, on supporting school policy, I was never going to budge. I am unspeakably grateful to our local high school for many things and this includes the knowledge, the love of learning and the encouragement to aim high that they have instilled in all three of my offspring. I cannot thank them enough for this because, as a single parent, life is a tough old trek and self-doubt always only a thought away. Their resolute input has, without question shielded my trio from my lone-mum fears of ‘daring to hope but then falling’ and contributed to them becoming just lovely young people, with amazing friends and bright futures. So rather than questioning any edicts over the years I have been happy to trust and … that has certainly paid off.
So let’s finish this post where we started with the one and only Small boy. Enrolled at sixth-form and starting an exciting new chapter. Well done son, you enjoy this moment …