Secondary thoughts

November 14, 2008

Ah, the joys of the Secondary Transfer season. This just has to be the best spectator-sport available in the grim winter months, as all the parents in the village get themselves in the most almighty tizz, trying to crowbar their darlings into the school most likely to put them on the optimum dinner party list in 20 years’ time.

The first sighting of a cuckoo – that’s deranged parent, not pushy bird, you understand, though come to think of it they are often one and the same – came this morning when, to my delight, I was told of a mama who’d asked if there would be internet access at her daughter’s school interview, as she’d like to bring her laptop. The child had worked on a presentation on why the school ought to accept her. Of course, for ‘child,’ we all know we have to read ‘mama’. No doubt she has forsaken several promotions while putting the final touches to the power point to end all power points – with just the right number of adorable mistakes to make it feasibly the work of a ten/eleven year old. It reminds me of handing in a recent school project, when one of the parents in the playground actually came out and said, ‘phew, thank God that’s over, I was up till 2am finishing it,’ and no-one batted an eyelid.

Am I the only parent too lazy, erm, busy, to ‘help’ their children in this way? I don’t know how anyone finds the time to cheat all this stuff, quite frankly. In between Pilates and plucking, I scarcely have a moment to myself these days.

Of course, what most people round here do is make the au pair do the work. One family always produced the most amazing decorated baskets for the Christmas Fair – until their au pair was deported, when a dog-eared old carrier bag eventually limped into school.

Mind you, au pairs can be scary. Unless you specify that handicrafts and an expert knowledge of fossil formations are de rigeur, you can easily be stuck with a girl with two left thumbs who can’t even knit the child’s offering for Craft Club. But, as with everything in Dulwich, you can over-do it. One friend recently spotted her au pair lugging back an enormous stack of books from the library. The complete works of Sophie Kinsella, my friend assumed, idly looking at the cover of the top tome. It was a chemistry text book. ‘Why are you getting out these books?’ she enquired. ‘There are some gaps in my knowledge,’ came the chilling reply.

Well, Child Two’s interview for the secondary is tomorrow, and I am remaining calm. She is as bright as she is beautiful.

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  • rosiero November 15, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Oh God, I remember all that palaver seven years ago when we were trying to avoid putting Kay into the local bog-standard comprehensive, where the headmistress interestingly admitted at the Open Day Address that their GCSE league tables were not all that good because some girls were unable to sit the exam that year – they were AWOL and being hunted by the police!! I can well believe that the parents are pushy. The hot-house atmosphere for good schools in my neck of the woods is unbelievable.

  • (Very) Lost in France November 15, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Our last au-pair’s idea of healthy eating was chocolate pasta. Very big in Slovakia apparently! I remember being falsely accused of making the winning entry for DS’s easter egg competition. He made a very good representation of a Faberge egg which really was all his own work, poor child. Oooh, I don’t miss all that parental competitiveness. Hope the interview went well. VLiF

  • splodge November 16, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Phew! Thank goodness that’s all behind me now…and I know several ‘cuckoos’ who bewail the fact that their little darlings are mixing with the wrong crowd and aren’t doing nearly as well as my son is at his school.

  • Hadriana's Treasures November 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    It took me ages to realise that the cards appearing on Cbeebies’ birthdays were not the work of the little darlings, themselves,…

  • Footballers Knees November 16, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Ah, happy days. My son started secondary school in September and his father, (thankfully my ex) wouldn’t be able to to name the city in which he goes to school, let alone the school itself. I, on the other hand, have joined the PTFA, the Ladies Commitee and sat dutifully in church every Sunday, to ensure that he was given a place. Who’s the fool?!!

    PS. I still attend church most Sundays. It turns out I quite like it and am not the faux Catholic I thought I was.

  • rosiero November 20, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    DD – I have an award for you.

  • DulwichDivorcee November 30, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Eek! Sounds a bit too much like the School of Life to me – hope Kay escaped xx

  • DulwichDivorcee November 30, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Ooh, VILF, chocolate pasta sounds delish, you must give me the recipe ….the Polish nanny I had years ago (now a dear friend) used to make strawberry and cream pasta, rather good in an odd sort of way ….interview a bit nerve-wracking (for me), fingers crossed

  • DulwichDivorcee November 30, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Splodge, you’re right, it’s hell out there, thank goodness I don’t have a competitive bone in my bod, though I do notice my daughters are doing frightfully well ….

  • DulwichDivorcee November 30, 2008 at 7:32 am

    HT, you mean those cards are not done by the children???? No, I cannot believe it. Another illusion shattered. Next you’ll be telling me that Father Christmas …..oh.

  • DulwichDivorcee November 30, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Hello, Footballers Knees, yes, religion is very soothing, isn’t it? I did try to get it over the summer but found that early Sunday morning was really not my best time …..

  • DulwichDivorcee November 30, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Rosiero, I shall rush over straight away. You really shouldn’t have …..but I’m very glad you did xx