Reward cards



Daughter two is a dark horse, as my mum says. Ping went my email the other day. “Your daughter has been selected for a reward card for her achievements”, it stated. I doublechecked. Yes, it was definitely daughter two, the person who when asked about homework the other day replied that she only had revision for a history exam which was “voluntary”. She has her GCSEs in just over a year’s time.

Must be drama, I thought. But no. She came home and gave me the card. She was being congratulated on her achievements in maths. Daughter two took about four years to grasp the concept of odds and evens, although she was choreographing the entire Cheryl Cole CD and designing her own furniture aged five. She feels maths is a complete waste of her time, particularly algebra. Either this is a complete smokescreen and she is a mathematical genius or the school is adopting the praising any achievement approach, hoping it will pay off. If they are doing the latter, they may need to try harder. Daughter two did, however, come back from the odds and evens shenanigans to get one of the highest marks in year six in the maths Sats. It’s just whether she can be enthused to pull her finger out. This is where, of course, parents come in. I have offered catch-up sessions in algebra as it is in fact the only part of maths that I like due to my being able to convince myself that it is about letters and hence almost like reading books. Daughter two has declined all offers of help. My partner is not much help either as his peak in maths was at the age of eight.

While she may not be an enthusiast for maths yet, daughter two has delivered me a long list of books she wants for Christmas. They include The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, The Picture of Dorian Gray and War and Peace. I think she may have googled “books that smart people have read” in an effort to impress her sister – her lifetime goal.

Daughter one was meanwhile very annoyed that she never got a reward card despite doing really well in all subjects except PE and art where she missed half the curriculum through migraines. “What kind of justice is that?” she said. It did not make a difference that a reward card is just a piece of card. The ‘reward’ is basically a square of cardboard. It is the glory of being awarded it. Only son, meanwhile, piped up that he had been on gold for weeks and no-one gave him a reward card, despite his prowess at something called the maths sprint.

I mentioned that parents don’t ever get reward cards, even though we face daily challenges of algebraic proportions, such as figuring out how to stop the Christmas tree from listing like the Tower of Pisa because it was sawn off at a bit of an angle and the perennial scientific problem of how to be in two places at any given time…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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