And a blog is needed i think.
So, last weekend, or rather the one before last, we went off to my parents to Rowan’s birthday, with some car buying thrown in. As we’d (i use the term we in the loosest possible terms) not hired a car immediately so we could use the courtesy car for as long as possible (36 hours in the event) we had then left it too late to hire a car that would actually fit all of us into it. 🙄 So Max, Maddy and Amelie went off to view a hopeful car in Derby by hire car (the mentioned girls being the ones who actually wept over the demise of the green one) and Fran, Josie and i took a train. We wanted to go to the birthday anyway but also needed child care the next morning so we could continue to shop if necessary or transfer cars about if not. In the event Max bought the car on the spot, a week to the minute from the accident and the first one he’d seen. Apparently it had been a very stressful experience for him, but i thought it went fairly smoothly, all things considered! The car is a 2007 Citroen C8, dark grey (bit dull after the green) and 7 seats. It is lovely, though it does have a very odd speedometer. I feel very at home in it, though i was glad that due to a bit of phone swapping jiggerypokery, i had an extra 2 week SatNav trial which got me home from Derby while i learned to drive it.
The Nut-Puddle-Hollies clan meeting was very lovely, though it did include without doubt the most excruciatingly embarrassing moment, which i fear my brother’s girlfriend may never forgive me for!!!!! 😆 Add to that my brother putting “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” on for evening family viewing with my parents and well…. it was funny…. My sister had another friend there too, who had 2 girls so all 8 children played fantastically well. Heard Fran telling O that i made her “work 6 hours a day” but O still thought being HE’d sounded more appealing than school. Grass is always greener, and all that 😆
Last week was more of a “downtime” week, particularly as i needed to get Fran around some schools to choose between. I took her to our nearest one and we both hated it, Max took her to the “not local enough” Academy which she loved and bounced home from and then to the fairly local comp which has a fairly poor reputation but which she thought was okay and she might like. I kept away; it is impossible for me to be positive about this so i thought it was better she went with Max. In the end we’ve put down the Academy first, as that is the only way she gets any chance at it, with some cleft/hearing/HE/social group due to old neighbourhood and Brownies mitigating circs and the not quite local comp as second. She has probably a less than 1% chance of getting a place at the Academy, which is certainly a decent school, but if she does, she’ll have to be there from 8-5 most days and give up most of the evening stuff she loves. She said she’d prefer to carry on being HE’d than go to the most local one i took her to.
***Wildly Speculative Rant commences***
SO the choice is done; i’m not going to worry about that side of it any more but i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t going to have to spend a lot of time adjusting to it. It will really change life for the rest of us; i’m not happy with either school option really for various reasons, i’m not convinced by her motivation, i don’t think it will improve her quality of life or her opportunities, i don’t think it will improve her educational provision or give her much more of a social life (in fact i think it will reduce it to some extent) and most of all, i just really don’t wish to have to deal with school and the impact it will have. I think the best word i have heard to describe school recently is “unnecessary” – i don’t think she needs it, we certainly don’t, i don’t see how an institution being fed by schools that are failing to get 25-40% of local kids to be able to read and write or add up is something i want to buy into or something we need. I really resent the fact that it has been ushered into our life as a “must try it” but i’d be a hell of a lot happier if she seemed genuinely enthusiastic about it. Worst of all, it has driven the first wedge there has ever been between me and my daughter and i wish that hadn’t happened.
We were fine before all this and now i feel i can’t discuss it with her in case i seem to be influencing her and she doesn’t want to discuss it with either of us. I’m really very angry and sad about that. I’m not sure how to be positive about something she “thinks perhaps she might want to perhaps try because she thinks that maybe it might be possibly good and everyone says it is” when she says, in the same breath, “but i’ll probably go back to being HE because i think that is good too and i’ll miss doing all the stuff i do and seeing all of you and visiting all my friends and going to camps and learning what i want.”
From what i can see, we’re probably all going to lose out just so Fran can go to a “failing-to-poor-beginning to recover” school with few facilities and a low educational expectation. Great. Fab choice. What a brilliant parent i am to her to be letting her do that.
Mentally i need to adjust, which may be no bad thing, to being an HE mum without my eldest at home. HE has always been a bit Fran-centric; about the only plus i see to this is that i’ll have more time with the others. I feel very torn by it all; i have to hope she gets the opportunity for the best school, but if she does, because of where it is and our car/work/life arrangements, we will suddenly have 45 hours a week less of her company. I feel really sad about that. I feel like in a couple of years i won’t know her any more. But maybe in a year or 2 i won’t feel that way; it feels a big hill to climb right now. My children have never done huge chunks of daycare; i have been with Fran 24/7 for 10 years. I am really going to miss her.
***Wildly Speculative Rant ends***
We had a fairly productive weekend; i (nearly) finished the little girl room, slightly hampered by furniture that hasn’t arrived that was due on 18th August but did enough rearranging to make it okay. Pruned clothes, dreamed up punishments for children who put wet pull ups in clothes boxes rather than throw them away and wondered how much i would have to flog them before they stopped putting dirty clothes back in drawers and clean clothes in the washing basket, in apparently random and thought process free fashion 🙄 Max made lovely dinners, we watched Merlin together, the big girls had a dance show rehearsal and Max, Josie and i unpacked boxes in companionable “here cometh Christmas” silence, while being grateful that this year it is not all over our house. Oh my god, am i glad about that.
This morning, along with every other home educating Twitterer i know, we partook of the free Film Education Week; on offer for us was The Spiderwick Chronicles. I loved the film and was very proud of the younger 2 who were scared, but bravely so. Could never have taken the big two to see that at 6 and 4 years old!!!!! We were first to arrive (and the only home educators) and the schools were held up in a jam somewhere. The manager got me a free drink and made a fuss of us, got Josie a booster seat and sat us on the middle back row so that were were on a little raised platform and had a perfect view. There were 2 schools in, one with about 200 kids and 1 with about 50. Thought the kids were impeccably behaved actually, general happy chatting, no running about, no one out of their seat, not screaming or shrieking – in fact, behaving exactly like kids on a day out who were excited about seeing a film but who knew how to do it right. They certainly made no more noise than a cinema full of adults might and i’m normally quite happy to be critical of herds of school kids. There wasn’t a single thing about it that made me think “FFS!” until one of their teachers stood up and bawled them all out for talking and said they were an embarrassment and a disgrace and they’d be lucky to be ever taken on a trip again. I was GOBSMACKED; i honestly couldn’t see a single thing they had done. All my girls just went silent with alarm and it took me at least 20 seconds to remember i wasn’t actually being told off but when i did, i said loudly to the girls “YOU don’t have to stop having a nice time, those people aren’t in charge of you!!!” I was really horrified. If i’d been a parent helper on that class trip, i would have complained about it, in fact, i actually might write to the school to say that the teacher was the only person to let the school down!!!!! There is definitely a fine line between keeping control and letting kids have their head, but there was just no need for it, i thought it was humiliating – and only made worse by the patronising “Well, W___ Primary School, thankfully you can all now be proud of yourselves for managing to remember your manners for the last 5 minutes” from the silly cow 5 minutes later.
It was enough to make me very sure we won’t look at that school, that’s for sure!