“Mummy, look!” gasped Mini-Me as she pointed to the pavement outside our house. It was Thursday morning and we were about to say our goodbyes before she went to her friend's house to go to school. I was all packed and excited about my impending gourmet weekend away.
“#@$!” I exclaimed, recoiling in horror. It was a fox lying on the ground. Dead. Open eyed. I momentarily considered what the universe meant by this portent, before taking a picture of it on my gadget and zooming to the airport to get on a plane to Biarritz. My friend kindly volunteered to phone the council and get it taken care of so that I didn't have to face a rotting corpse upon my return.
This was our first 3 nights apart from each other since Mini-Me went away with the school earlier in the year for two nights and missed me very much. I'm thinking we need increased practice (more trips for me!) because she will be going away for a week with the school again next year. My weekend away was a food-themed celebration of the 40th Birthday of Ani, one of my oldest friends whom I have known since we were 7 – three years younger than Mini-Me is now. It got me thinking about how wonderful it would be for her if she is able to keep in touch with her friends for the rest of her life too (-especially ones that will make her life glamorous by necessitating trips abroad and who run their own organic spice companies and will cook elaborate and mouthwatering meals for her too; ones that work in fashion and regularly drop bags of clothing on her coffee table; not to mention ones that will happily organise the removal of dead animals from outside her house when she is on glamorous trips abroad...) Strong friendships are so incredibly important in life and the older I get, the more I believe this to be true.
It is something I'm thinking about a lot now, when considering which schools to put down on Mini-Me's secondary school application. A lot of time during my break away was spent dissecting Mini-Me's secondary school prospects. I know I have been going on about it since the last issue of Families NW, but having finally received the results of the 11-plus test our munchkins were put through, and with the application deadline looming, the decision, whilst becoming a bit clearer, hasn't got much easier or less weighty.
Whilst getting into a good school that's a bit far away might be an achievement, what about the sacrifice of not having a network of friends living nearby? Does a social life matter less once you are in a school that is hardcore results-driven? And will it affect their self-esteem if your kid's background is a bit less, shall we say, conventional than her peers? I just don't know. One theory I have heard reapeated over the past month, from people who have been through the whole process and also from parents posting on the excellent elevenplusexams.co.uk forum is that your child will get into the school that is right for them and if they want to work hard they will do well wherever they are. This is very comforting. After all, we all want what is best for our children; personally, I want to give Mini-Me the chances that I never had. But I question whether my desires for her are motivated by my own vanity or by what's the best for her specific abilities and personality. Like many parents out there, I have some long hard thinking to do...
Gosh, when I was ten, there was none of this to think about. Me and Ani and Chanda (uber fashion friend) were busy planning seriously uninformative school assemblies and making up dances in the playground. My biggest anxiety was born of a Diwali assembly when the sari I had shambolically wrapped around me started to unfurl and entangle itself around the shrine about which we were dancing and I chose the moment when my big butt was facing the school to bend over and start unravelling it. I never lived it down but have embraced it now as a treasured memory. Anyway, my point is that it was a given that I would just go to the local high school and me and my friends did okay. I devoured Smash Hits fortnightly and that turned me into a writer. Sorta.
Mini-Me on the other hand has to think about secondary schools, not to mention about a rotting dead fox – which was STILL there when I came back on Sunday!
For more Life on the Edge with Angelina, visit mynotesfromtheedge.blogspot.com. Angelina runs Sing and Sign award-winning baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com.