It is a truth universally acknowledged that a middle-class mother in possession of daughters must be in want of a school. Or at least an expat middle-class mother who is utterly horrified at the level of education on offer where she lives. Next week the girls and I set off from Abu Dhabi to England for interviews and exams at various public schools.
Having been turned down out of hand by the school their half sister went to on the basis of an exam they took (I even told said school they would fail it), I figured the only way to get them in is for them to actually meet the people who make the decisions and hope they spot the potential in them.
I also need to show them the benefits of an English school, because they are less than convinced that it is the right move for them. Let’s face it, why would they want to go anywhere. Here they start school early (7.30) but by 2.30 they are finished for the day, and they rarely have homework. So instead of doing prep or careering across a frozen lacrosse pitch they are in their rooms, on their laptops. Which might seem like a nice thing to do, but will of course eventually turn their brains to mush and they will be no use to anyone.
I am also aware that being a teenager in a place where drinking and relations with the opposite sex are illegal may not be ideal. I was brought up in Sweden where both are practically obligatory.
When I was about 15 I had a male friend to stay. In the morning, my mother came into my bedroom to ask if I’d like a cup of tea. The boy had by then left.
“No thanks,” I said.
She was about to shut the door, then poked her head around again. “Did you lose your virginity?” she asked, as casually as if she were asking what time I was going to get up.
“NO!” I yelled, utterly horrified. I was an extremely conservative teenager, and my virginity was not even up for discussion, least of all with my mother.
“Oh,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “Why not?”
But the main reason I would like the girls to go to an English school is that I really don’t feel here they’re getting as much out of life here as they could be doing. They’re just not INTERESTED in anything. Nothing seems to have captured their imagination. Not art, nor drama, nor sport. OK so Bea is a fanatical Chelsea fan, which is commendable, but I would like it if they actually did something and excelled at it.
Of course some of that is down to them, but I also believe children need inspiring, and they need exciting role models to show them the way. I can tell them to read a book a thousand times, but coming from me, their natural instinct is to ignore it. The other day Rupert asked Bea what book she was reading. “Facebook,” she replied in all seriousness.
Time to move on girls…..
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2013