Secondary thoughts

Ah, the joys of the Secondary Transfer season. This just has to be the best spectator-sport available in the grim winter months, as all the parents in the village get themselves in the most almighty tizz, trying to crowbar their darlings into the school most likely to put them on the optimum dinner party list in 20 years’ time.

The first sighting of a cuckoo – that’s deranged parent, not pushy bird, you understand, though come to think of it they are often one and the same – came this morning when, to my delight, I was told of a mama who’d asked if there would be internet access at her daughter’s school interview, as she’d like to bring her laptop. The child had worked on a presentation on why the school ought to accept her. Of course, for ‘child,’ we all know we have to read ‘mama’. No doubt she has forsaken several promotions while putting the final touches to the power point to end all power points – with just the right number of adorable mistakes to make it feasibly the work of a ten/eleven year old. It reminds me of handing in a recent school project, when one of the parents in the playground actually came out and said, ‘phew, thank God that’s over, I was up till 2am finishing it,’ and no-one batted an eyelid.

Am I the only parent too lazy, erm, busy, to ‘help’ their children in this way? I don’t know how anyone finds the time to cheat all this stuff, quite frankly. In between Pilates and plucking, I scarcely have a moment to myself these days.

Of course, what most people round here do is make the au pair do the work. One family always produced the most amazing decorated baskets for the Christmas Fair – until their au pair was deported, when a dog-eared old carrier bag eventually limped into school.

Mind you, au pairs can be scary. Unless you specify that handicrafts and an expert knowledge of fossil formations are de rigeur, you can easily be stuck with a girl with two left thumbs who can’t even knit the child’s offering for Craft Club. But, as with everything in Dulwich, you can over-do it. One friend recently spotted her au pair lugging back an enormous stack of books from the library. The complete works of Sophie Kinsella, my friend assumed, idly looking at the cover of the top tome. It was a chemistry text book. ‘Why are you getting out these books?’ she enquired. ‘There are some gaps in my knowledge,’ came the chilling reply.

Well, Child Two’s interview for the secondary is tomorrow, and I am remaining calm. She is as bright as she is beautiful.

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