I feel slow motion and unmotivated this morning. I don’t feel sad or frustrated about it, I’m just low on energy. I guess there’re only so many hours in a weekend and if I take an extra four of them out of my sleep time on a Friday night, then I’ll be paying them back in energy if not extra sleep over the course of the rest of the weekend. And the weekend is already responsible for catching up on energy lost over the rest of the week.

So, it was a choice, you know. And I think I’d make the same choice again.

It’s refreshing to have made choices without alcohol’s input. It means I get to own the choices a little more.

***

I’m often concerned about my kids’ development. I certainly try to hide it from them, but you do wonder how much of stuff kids pick up on.

When I was growing up I always felt sorry for my friends whose parents compared them constantly with others and scrutinised their reports always looking for how they could have done better.

I “could have done better” at several points during my secondary school career, but I was thankful for the breathing space my parents gave me around that. I was self-motivated then; when I got low marks I didn’t like that and so I fixed it. No-one external was telling me it was unacceptable or anything like that.

The only time I got pretty low marks (for me) was Summer of 5th year when I came home with some Bs and Cs rather than my usual As and Bs. I’d had my first boyfriend ever and had been skipping some classes and definitely not paying attention. My Mum’s first reaction had been of shock and disappointment, but by the time she spoke to me about it she said “When I looked again, they are actually decent marks”, but it was enough of a wake up call to me – on its own the low results, but also the fact my mother had noticed.

You see, I had thought they hadn’t been paying attention. I had thought I was invisible and unnoticed in my life. No one had ever commented on my good marks and so I hadn’t realised they might comment on my “bad” marks.

I’m (obviously?) a bit conflicted about the whole thing. On one hand, I really appreciated the space to do my own thing and make my own decisions about what was important to me academically. On the other hand, I hated how unimportant I felt due to what seemed like lack of interest in me. I can see now that it was probably just box ticking in a busy parental life; Child3’s schooling? No problem. Tick box!

So what to do for the best with my own two children? I can already sense my over-investment in their achievement. I spent a chunk of time last night researching the “draw a person” exercise and how that correlates with mental age and future academic achievement. I find that I’ve a slight feeling of … not disappointment per se, but a kind of “oh” feeling around them being average in certain ways. It takes me a second to go “that is perfectly fine”. And, in fact, if I think about it for a little bit of time then I feel like maybe life is easier for those who are closer to average than those who are extremely above or below.

It’s stuff like reading and letters that really causes this reaction in me, I guess. I know that when I was their age I was already reading and already starting to have the advantage of reading stories to myself in my life. And I suppose I worry that their going to miss out on the joy of books and that they haven’t started reading early enough.

And then I remind myself that they’re only four and if they’re not interested in learning letters or reading then pushing it on them is the shortest path to getting them to hate it. And remember all those Nordic countries with their great results and they don’t start learning to read until seven!

Concluding this tangled discussion of feelings: I know that I want my kids to be kids. I know that the best approach to the beginning of their academic life is to allow them to organically develop interest in stuff. I know from experience that space encourages self-motivation and probably even the buzz word of the moment in secondary education: resilience.

But I also recognise all the anxiety I feel inside about getting it right.

Well, as  with anything else, breathe. Right?

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