Getting up early


It’s been a harsh return to school for the teenagers. I did warn them about staying up late and paying the penalty on Monday morning, but I’m not sure any of my words of wisdom are ever taken into account. For instance, I was trying to coach daughter two about an upcoming interview for work experience. “So,” I began. “Why do you want to do your work experience here?” Daughter two paused for a moment. “Well, it wasn’t my first choice,” she ventured. NOOOO!

Daughter one is now officially in her last half-term at school and exam tensions are rising. At 9.15 on Monday I got a call to say she was suffering from a migraine. She, a person who spends her life reading philosophical books and watching obscure films, has had enough of education. All the targeting and testing has put her off for life. She is not sure now that she wants to go to university even though it will just mean doing what she does anyway – reading and thinking deeply about subjects.

The other kids are not the best advert for the education system, but perhaps for other reasons. “I hate school,” said daughter two when I picked everyone up on Monday. “Any reason in particular?” I asked. “Nope. I just hate it all,” she said. She is going through a reclusive period, sitting in her room making candles and painting murals. Daughter three is having some friendship issues, had had a bad day and needed some TLC. Only son joined in with an “I hate school too,” from the back of the car.

While getting up on Monday morning was an achievement, Tuesday was even more of an effort. “It’s nearly the weekend!” I said encouragingly. “The worst bit is Monday. Consider yourself on the home strait.” No one moved an inch. Only son has swimming for the first time this week. It’s with school, but he has decided he doesn’t want to go and hid the letter to the teacher saying he was going. “I can’t swim!” he protested. “That’s precisely why you need to go,” said I, handing the letter in. I have been trying to teach him since he was around two, but he refuses point blank to take off the armbands. I took him swimming on Sunday to get him ready. He did all the strokes, some nifty synchronised swimming moves and had a ball, but he wouldn’t even take one armband off.

Meanwhile he shows a big interest in maths and spellings. Every night I ask him to do a times table and every night he does about 10 additional ones, just for fun, including the 13s. He may say he hates school, but he loves learning. Let’s hope that survives into secondary school.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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