And I wish I could be one of those home ed mamas who are on the case.
Researchers, teachers, cheerleaders, invigilators, detectives, these Boudiccas of the home ed exam world know the ways of every syllabus from Accountancy to Zoology.
Just state your exam board, preferred date (a.m. or p.m.) and they pull past papers from the internet, just like magicians draw rabbits from hats. They quote mark schemes with such terrifying pin-point accuracy, they can advise I note that Question 3 on the 2013 exam was worth 10 marks, unlike the 2014 exam when the same on Question 5 was worth 4 marks, so watch out! It may be Question 4 in June 2015 and worth 30 seconds of your time.
Really, I am bruised. I turn to my daughters and say, Remind me. What exams are you taking next month?
A bit of me now wishes I could be one of the Boudicca warriors, just a teensy weensy bit! But my home ed daughters, now aged 15, are organising their own coastings towards the next set of exams. Mother? No Longer Required. Thank you very much and shut the door on your way out.
Round here, we have that big, big problem about your mama being your teacher. It is pointless your mother (graduate in EngLit plus teaching certificate) saying owt about a character, a plot, or the narrative style of William Faulkner. Forget it. Mama dragged you out her belly. That single act wiped away all respect for her brain.
Second, Shark (who can lead a pack), is a scientist. And I know feck all about Physics and Sea Bed Molluscs. A few tartly chosen phrases and I am left humiliated while the demonstration is complete. Shark knows much, much, much more than me, and she can even do some maths.
Third - the killer strike against me - I am embarrassing. In all ways. The way I stand, sit, wave, and say the word knickers while standing in the bank queue. (Even when it is an appropriate word to use, it being my handle on my business.)
Fourth, all my girls organise themselves. I am a little scared by this. (I have a to-do list from 2009 and, if I could find it, I bet it would still be good for today.) But if I suggest any activity outside exams exams exams, then it must fit Tiger's timetable.
This should go some way to console you, if you are taking children out of school to save their heads, bodies, or souls. You do not need to be their teacher in all things. They can do it for themselves. Just watch them. Hand them a syllabus and some books and support them (if they'll let you) while they find out stuff for themselves in their own ways, with their own wits and resources about them. Trust them. They do not need to be spoon fed every hour of the day.
But there is still life outside exams! (Only just.) And I am still good for some (non-exam related) activities. These are:
Paying for theatre tickets.
In the last month we notched up Miller's Death of a Salesman at the RSC, Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Unicorn, and our old mate Mr Shakespeare's Cymbeline at the Waterloo East Theatre in Brad Street. (Where we had a monumental argument over just how embarrassing I could be. I told them they could all find their own way home. They did.)
Paying for driving.
We all decamped to Dorset for the Under-17 Car Club. This was excellent. Shark, Tiger and Squirrel slept in a field and I stayed in a room WITH MY HUSBAND. I have to shout it in caps at strangers because this is probably one of the most remarkable things to have happened to me in the last 15 years. You have no idea. I'm not going to tell you. Just accept it. It was a very big event in my life.
Squirrel, driving. Don't panic! She's not on the B542. She's on an army tank training ground.
Paying for friends membership.
Particularly, the British Library. We swank in and out of the Magna Carta exhibition like we own it. I also arranged a workshop on rights and responsibilities, so yay me. Big tick for mama.
Paying for folk music.
Oh yes, we are getting pretty darn big on following folk now, so look out. Thanks to Shark, I have to get us access to the local folk clubs where we can hear live music. BBC2's folk show just ain't enough anymore.
Paying for Russell Brand.
I make Shark, Squirrel and Tiger do politics. From attendance at the local sub-sub-commitee, to involvement in action campaigns, to climate change marches, and being forced to take the Global Citizen exam in a couple of weeks. They all went with the Woodcraft Folk to Cineworld's live screening. (I went next door and watched Child 44.)
Not paying for other stuff, just glad to have friends and places to go.
Specifically, maths with San and her lovely family. The last Stem lecture on X-Rays. Running about the woods for wide games. And the talk on river management (I should tell you about that. It was a growing up moment.) The preview at Milton Keynes Art Gallery (I loved the tangled woods, but I found the life size penis a bit puzzling.)
Happy to say to my girls and the world, it may be April, but there is life beyond your exam syllabus.
But this blog ain't all education now... I also use it as my aide memoire. ... In other news, Dig spent several days in Manchester, the washing machine broke down (new one installed), the car suspiciously passed the MOT, and my husband bought a fridge. In the UK and not Hong Kong. (Significant.)