Not reticent – the 6 year old who just can’t be arsed…

I am a fairly slapdash parent. I’m competitive in a low maintenance kind of way (I don’t get my knickers in a twist about stuff the kids have no aptitude for – what’s the point?) but I am really showoff-y if they get a good part in the nativity.

Anyway, for a long time we thought Child 1 was what you might politely term ‘reticent’ – or nervous about reading and writing. She likes maths but writing is a struggle for her – which seems odd when she’s so good at art but anyway…

That doesn’t bother me because she’s (mostly) happy, has friends, gets access to the school’s amazing facilities and doesn’t seem affected by her peers’ more confident performance.

Last week she was moved back to the phonics reading group. To be fair, her teacher handled it amazingly – she told me it was to build up her confidence – but I was worried. After No.1 was appointed house captain for being polite it seemed like she just sauntered around being a bit of a nobhead at times – it’s amazing what a bit of power and an enamel badge can do.

She also kind of lied to me about her homework. Every week she gets a sheet of 10 words to trace, then write. She didn’t tell me that they’re for a spelling test. Nobody else hands in the practice sheet. The best mark she’s got all year is 7 out of 10. She averages 5 or 6. That’s fine – except that she couldn’t be arsed learning them. It’s just dumb luck…so last night I changed it up and got her to tell me what this week’s words were – and then spell them. We repeated the exercise at breakfast.
She got 9 out of 10 in her test this afternoon and won the ‘child of the week’ prize – which means a certificate and another enamel badge. She’s going to be unbearable all week (think Rolf from Sound of Music) but it’s so worth it to know that she can do it if she only makes that little extra bit of effort. And, more importantly for her to know it. She’s not reticent, after all – she’s just been phoning it in all term.

I can’t talk – I survived school, college and most of my career doing 80% of my work in 20% of the available time. It’s just really hard to watch someone you love live by the skin of their teeth too. I really really really sympathise with my editors and ex-bosses now.

Making a deadline with 10 minutes to spare puts everyone in a difficult position and it’s just not fair to expect people to stay late to line up a ‘masterpiece’ about hosiery trends or strategies for coping with breakups. It wasn’t like I was ever breaking the Watergate scandal – the closest I’ve got is The Washington Post liking one of my Instagram posts.

Consider the lesson learnt and chin fucking chin, dear readers! And thank you, gin – you’re going to top it all off beautifully.


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