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Monday, 13 June 2011

turn over

F12 was given last Thursday and Friday to spend at home as Study Leave prior to his Year 7 exams which start today.
“That’s not fair,” grumbled T14, “Why should he get two days at home watching television?”
“He’ll be working,” I said primly. If wishes were horses ... God knows there was plenty to do.
“Shut up, T14,” said F12. “Stop doing me down. What about my self-esteem?”
A child more possessed of self-esteem is hard to imagine.

We had woefully underestimated the amount of revision to be done. And when I say we, I mean he. I had been snapping and nagging and whining for weeks, let alone drip-feeding wisdom throughout the year (“if you’d just read through your notes each night...”)
My friend, G – efficient, son in F12’s class – produced a revision timetable: greater love hath no better definition than that such a thing is then shared with the competition. But the days slipped by and the amount due to be done was daily piggy backed onto the next day, and then the next, and then the next week. The probs with attending a school which covers Key Stage 3 in two years, and not the more normal three. It soon stacks up.

So these Study Days were allotted and pretty soon the rumours went round among Boy Parents that the Girls were deep in Study-Sleepovers and were revising in pairs.
G texted: “makes you want to vom.”
We were taunted by the star charts they would make for each other, the curly clouds in different felt pens, the issuing to each other of little hearts and flowers in mutual reward; their resolve just to do one more hour, ok, let’s make that two. Giggle giggle, little hug, and noses back to the books.
In stark comparison to Boy Work: Pokémon and lolling on the sofa.

G texted: “the girls are just too aggressive with it all. Have visions of them swottily driving up the class averages and poor boys impaling themselves later on guilt spikes. Bloody girls!”
We agreed. It was ghastly. We imagined the shiny eyes, the thrilled faces, the focus. It was easy to picture the perfect recitation of every irregular verb going, the creation of nifty acronyms. It was official. The girls were far too keen and high-achieving and committed, and in their spare time wedded to their violins and welded to their hockey sticks.
Our only hope lay in the time-wasting intrinsic in the colour coding, the glitter pens and the opportunities they would already be taking for laying down excuses against not coming top.
G texted: “every little helps.”

I texted: “there will be some, surely, awash with headaches and leg aches and lies and general boy-esque slack reasons for not getting on with it?”
F12 pfaffed about making some noxious brew and calling it coffee.
I texted: “There’s value in them getting a raw score, not just biased in favour of excessive revision.”

F12 went upstairs to tackle BBC Bitesize. Pokémon-type noises soon issued from what is laughingly called the Study.

G texted: “Some will not be working too hard, I am sure. I am not going to worry any more. Have wasted time on maps and now see maps not included in list from school. Feck.”
I texted: “Have jettisoned music. Attempting history tomorrow, but languages are going to have to fend for themselves.”

On the Friday, I had to take the car in first thing to the garage. The bit hadn’t arrived. Surprise. So it was Tesco for me and then home, drowning in bags to find F12, sitting in his pyjamas and a long Wee Willie Winkie hat, watching “The Simpsons,” a worrying mug of hot chocolate slopping about cheerfully above the pale carpet.
“Why aren’t you doing your maths! And get that cup out of here!” I screeched so gnat-high that it was clearly off his hearing range.
He threw his hands in the air. “What do you expect?” he said, “I need supervision. I’m not to be trusted.”
I headed off the hot chocolate and denied physics its triumph.

So I set him about his history and, some time later – after, in fact, another trip to the garage – went to check on him. He was deep in Shaman lore and the Cro-Magnon cave paintings. I twitched. Whither Tudors?
“Have you heard of this tribe?” he asked, pointing me to a page in his book.
I was soon drawn in. It was fascinating: early spirituality, the Sungir burial ground, the Ain Ghazal clay collection, the moundbuilder sites.
“You’re meant to be doing the Norman Conquests, really and the monasteries, Henry VIII, just the British stuff,” I said weakly. I hated it. Denting his enthusiasm and dragging the second child in as many weeks back from something more interesting, back to bloody Henry VIII: I bet he never let himself be dragged anywhere else. What we don’t know about Anne Boleyn and her 6th finger isn’t worth knowing. The curriculum returns to it again, and again.
It represents everything that I hate about modern education, that it no longer is that, e-ducere, to lead out, but e-shove-in-o.
I gave him The Tudors, he went off with The Greeks.

G texted: “on a major cull. Too much to do. Stopping for lunch at 2. D counting the minutes. Need wine.”
I texted: “F feeling confident. Heart plummets.”

I came across him in the sitting room. Lying on his back and talking to himself.
“Don’t you think you should be revising?” I said.
“No, darling. I don’t.” Darling! He stood up, “I’m going to make some coffee.”
E walked through the kitchen as F12 was mopping up the sideboard.
“Tell him to revise,” I hissed.
“When do his exams start?” E asked, surprised.
FFS

They’re in there now, puzzling over geography.
Is there a grimmer subject than geography? And so much of it, I know now; know, that is, in terms merely of the title of topics we actually know nothing about: isotherms and tectonics, relief and settlements. Clueless, he’ll sit there, the false balloon of self-belief swiftly fizzling flat. Will he even remember to read the instructions, those hellish requirements to do one from Section A, etc?

Need I say that I’m dreading the fall-out, the public reading of results, the girls writhing smugly from positions of colour-co-ordinated success? The boys glowering and baffled. I can see it all. Not for nothing did my old boss call me Cassandra. But some lessons you just have to learn yourself. As F12 is about to find out.

12 comments:

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Oh this is brilliant. Again you've captured the whole horror of revision. I'm sure I was a great reviser, underlining everything, different headings etc. My son sounds like yours - needs constant nudging to come off the computer and do some proper revision. What's worse is that a lot of his revision is on the computer so I have no idea when he's skiving and when he's working. 80/20 is the usual ratio.

Exmoorjane said...

No, there is nothing grimmer than geography... But oh, shamanism and cro-mag cave paintings? Yes, sirree....attaboy.
We too have exams but am being Mrs Slack and Blithe about it all. Have informed J that they are his exams and he may do with them as he so pleases. Surprisngly this cavalier approach seems to have some merit as he asked me to test him on his conversational French over breakfast. He sounded very nearly Parisian by the end of his croissant. :) xxxx

Milla said...

yes, Trisha, I was like you, I was so orgnanised, and so very much a girl that Mr Uber Cavalier, and his brother, the equally cacalier and worryingly older, just freak me out. Wish I could be Ommmmm, but it's the school, the pressure of getting in - THOUSANDS apply.
He has come out sure that he's got 80-90% in History, and 70-80% in the other 2. He is a very optimistic child.

Belgravia Wife - sort of said...

Geography, I was subjected to land reclamation in Holland, or polders. Rather worryingly I espouse the 'wing it and muck about having a game of cricket' approach. Suffice to say I wasn't a 'revision sleepover' kind of girl. As I say very often, Einstein was a 'delayed' reader and Richard Branson used to be caned for dire spelling results.Good luck xx

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Another brilliant read - and takes me back - thank goodness mine (3 boys) are all grown up and have an education of sorts - oh I hated those study days, rubbish Mother me!

PS Is Geography still a subject? I dont remember my children doing it

Edward said...

Oh daarling, I can just hear F12 in this. I was, of course, vaguely aware of impending exams, but unless there are certificates at the end I find it difficult to get terribly exercised about them. But a top blog, as always, as you well know, having sat next to me as I alternately laughed and choked on a pistachio nut.

Milla said...

organised, Milla, not orgnanised.
Belgravia Wife, you're too bold for me. But then I'm a horrifying control freak.
Karen, study days sure do drag. Geography sadly is a subject (am clueless as to BW's polders - is that even a word>??) but one you can drop. Or not. Eldest son chose it. Chose it, I tell you.
Edward, I know I know, looks like I'm the only Stressy Bessy on t'internet. That pistachio nut sounded nasty.

Frances said...

Milla, let me once again say that I think those sons of yours are very, very fortunate to have you and E for their parents.

I predict brilliant futures for the entire family, without needing supply a single detail!

xo

Leigh said...

Laughed and laughed. It's the same here. The small girl comes home, gets out her books and says, "I have spellings today, Mummy," and does it. I ask ask the small boy, do you have any homework? He says, "dunno." Next day I ask him, "Did you check your homework?" He says, "forgot." Some days go by. I forget to ask. Then homework-due-eve arrives. "Homework?!" I say. He says, "Aww." I say, "Do it!" He says, "Awwwwww." Ten minutes later I find him playing on the DS...

The only thing that confuses me, is that somehow I grew into being a woman, when as a child I was so obviously a boy...

Chris Stovell said...

A hearty round of applause to you, Milla m'dear, for summing it up so beautifully.

How's the novel going??? *giving you lots of Beady Eye Factor*

Milla said...

Frances, dearest, thank you but there's no getting away from it, years-worth of details to follow. Sorry.
Leigh, so bold! Again, I quail, ghastly little pleaser that I am. The thought of going in without my homework makes me freak, even now.
Chris. Hmmm, yeah, whatevs. Next!!

Shiny said...

Oh, this part of child-rearing I do not envy. I, too, had boy tendencies at school, hiding a fiction book in my textbook during school study x