Funny title! I spent some quality time last week chatting to a dear girl whom I admire greatly. They appeared to me to be the perfect family – even with teenagers living at home which is quite a feat!
Of course when one starts to talk in depth, problems and difficulties are aired, because at the end of the day no parent ever gets it right. I hope that this is a comfort to anyone who has survived the rigours of watching their family growing up. However much fun and love and joy one experiences, it is not an easy task. There are so many pitfalls, and as ones children reach the teenage years one has to take a back seat and let them go into the big, wide, wicked world. It is so hard to keep the door open and not mind if they don’t walk back through it: not easy to do. The most important thing is to allow them the freedom to fail.
This is not meant to be a treatise on parenthood, but I have recently had the pleasure of watching several of my grandchildren prepare for their important exams in the summer, and how they manage to cope with the vicissitudes of growing into adulthood. I am a very bad grandmother and constantly tell them not to worry about their exam results (I would not do this if they were not extremely vigilant and hardworking!) but I do think that these days the pressures are too much for many youngsters. They are expected to put a great deal into school life which of course is good; they often play in teams and sometimes have two matches a week; they have responsibility thrust upon them, which again is good, but sometimes it is simply too much. Their CV hangs like a huge cloud over them so that they push themselves to do the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme and other such activities, maybe just to look good on the CV. I know travel is good, but one of mine has just been to Bolivia for ten days at half term. Yes, it is a wonderful experience, but she is exhausted and will remain so until the holidays – and even then she (and others) will no doubt be given endless revision and homework to do. Where have the carefree school ‘holidays’ gone? when they could switch off and not worry about mocks or school exams, let alone common entrance, GCSEs, A levels and University choices.
I can hear you muttering disdainfully as you read this. I am all for people working hard, but there must be time and opportunity for rest and relaxation, also for parties and fun and carefree irresponsibility. One of my daughters went into an A level exam in her pyjamas because she had been up half the night revising, and another had a serious riding accident during her O levels and missed a whole term at school. That was when I realised that there was more to life than exams, although amazingly she did manage to get good results, but all I cared about was that she was alive.
This rather lightweight blog is to be taken with a sense of humour, a pinch of salt and not to be read by any sluggards. I was prompted to write it when I saw an old (boarding) school friend last week who made me laugh by saying that she was removed from school in the term before her A levels because her father had no one to go hunting with. She is now a well known artist, but probably doesn’t have a great deal on her CV! None of us did, but we have mostly had wonderful lives, (and are now galloping through our seventies.)
P.S I am extremely proud of all my eleven grandchildren – I must just mention that I have a grandson in Hawai’i who got a scholarship when he was only two!!