As a parent there will always be milestones or challenges. This goes without saying. Sometimes you manage to take these as either lessons learned, or masterful achievements. Unfortunately, the results for my next crash course in parenting wont be realised for years to come, if ever.
I find myself writing this, the day after my ‘intro to GCSE options’ meeting at the school last night. Being the grand old age of 12 and currently in year 8. The eldest boy (and myself), are about to be thrown right in to the middle of directing his future life.
Until last night, it hadn’t actually dawned on me how important and thought provoking picking four subjects would be. Out of the 8 GCSE’s he would be doing, four it turns out are obligatory. Science, Maths, English Literature and English Language. These four are known as ‘facilitating’ subjects and considered vital for future employment or further education. They sit there with others such as Spanish, another science or Geography, amongst others. These sit next to creative subjects, such as, design and technology or drama. Finally we have the ‘other’ subjects such as PE, RE or business studies.
Long gone are the days of the eldest wanting to be a Premier League footballer, or a successful YouTuber. The dreams are still there, but he has matured enough to have a back up plan.
I say plan, like most 12 year olds, he has no idea what his grown up self wants to be. However, in a moment that almost shed a tear or two from me, he announced that he needs to pick carefully, to cover as many eventualities as he could. Maybe university was an option, maybe a trade was an option. But he was wise enough already, to know that his choice of GCSE would be vital to him, whatever his choice in the future.
Although this process has only just begun from a parents perspective. The school have been readying the kids for months. I only know this from overhearing conversations and interrupting Whats app calls. The kids have been steadily planing their next three years of reactive learning and guiltily, I was chuckling along.
‘I’m doing food tech, that’s bound to be easy’
‘English lit sounds good, cos you only gotta read books and stuff’
‘I ‘aint picking PE because its all boring and about the body and things’
The near tear shedding incident came about because my 12 year old had realised the importance of his upcoming decision, way before his 44 year old Dad (who, still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up).
After a long chat and in depth look at all the subject choices, we managed to pinpoint some that may suit and dismiss altogether some others. We both went away mussing lots of ideas. When I finally sat down afterwards, pondering how sensible and mature he actually was, underneath that bravado and angst, that all pre teens like to hide behind. I came to realise that I must be doing something right.
With regard to his options, it is a work in progress and I am sure thoughts will change fairly regularly until the final choice is made. I will continue to guide rather than dictate. If he doesn’t think he can cope with double science, he doesn’t have to. Yes it would be great for him to become a doctor, but equally great if he wants to be a plumber. I’m still secretly hoping the airline pilot or racing driver choice materialise, but only for selfish reasons.
I feel, that my main job is to make sure he understands his options and potentially guide him into picking ones that may be more suited.
We still have lot’s of meetings and subject open evenings to attend and while discussing those, he made me promise that I would never be one of those parents who turns up to these meetings,with a dictaphone and busies themselves making shorthand notes on reporter style notepads throughout. He wanted me, to remain the kind of parent that rocks up
armed with his phone and takes pictures of the important bits from the presentation.
Which was just as well, because that will never change. Especially now I am rocking my parenting skills and turning them up to eleven.