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It’s daughter two’s birthday coming up and she’s going to be a teenager. I have always envisaged the teen years as being a bit of a challenge with daughter two, given her slight tendency towards drama, but so far she has mellowed with age and seems to be putting 110% into her schoolwork. Her main approach to school is a charm offensive. “So and so teacher really likes me,” she states regularly as if getting the teachers on side is the main point of school.
Her big sister is a tough act to follow in the academic – and the cool – stakes so charm is her number one tactic, but recently she’s been willingly putting a lot of work in. Her previous attitude to secondary school was to choose “the easiest one” or “the one where they don’t do maths”. The other day she had a French test. This entailed considerable role play practice. The subject was sport. Daughter two is very good at accents and French gestures. It all sounded – and looked – French, which was a good starting point. We went over it again and again. “J’adore la natation. C’est ma passion,” she said with gusto. “Je fais la natation avec ma mere. C’est super.” We had indeed been swimming at the weekend and I taught her to do a triple somersault and a backwards tuck, the result of childhood years spent in a hot climate pretty much permanently in a swimming pool. These are the kind of life skills I am imparting to my children. You never know when a backwards tuck will come in handy.
After we had rehearsed the French test 100 times I said bonne nuit to daughter two. In the night daughter one had a migraine so she missed the first part of school. Daughter two went off with her dad. I texted her “bonne chance”, but auto correct changed it to “bonnie chance”. Daughter two must have been a bit puzzled why her mother was sending her a curious Scottish greeting for I have a feeling she has no idea what “bonne chance” actually means since it is not about sport. In any event, the message did not get through as my phone doesn’t work in most parts of the house.
When I picked her up later, daughter two said she had got something like a 6c in French. I have no idea what that means, but she added that it was the best score in her class and that she had beaten her friend who she considers to be very brainy. I said I was very proud and from now on would talk to her only in French. “What would you like for your birthday?” I asked in French. “Comme ci comme ca,” came the reply, with a French shrug of the shoulders. She has so far given that same reply to every question I have asked her.
While daughter two struggles with the shadow cast by her overly academic sister, daughter one complains that I have her down as ‘the smart one, but not the art one’. “Daughter two is the creative one, according to you,” she says. This is based on the fact that daughter two does art all the time and I mention it from time to time while also praising daughter one’s fantastic sketching abilities. I have reminded daughter one on several occasions that it is not me who has left the GCSE 3D junk food art sculpture abandoned in a corner of her room for the past two-three months [it feels like so much longer]… She’s finally got her GCSE timetable. Not only has she had continuous assessments for the last six months, but the actual exams seem to last almost two months. I don’t know about daughter one, but I’m working out a schedule which involves a lot of relaxation and stress relief.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk. Picture credit: Wikipedia.