Yesterday, I gave up on my son for the first time in his life. I honestly felt that I was not equipped to help him in the present or the future. He was also making it very clear that I was being stupid, not listening and not helping one bit. I ended up concluding that he should rely on his father from now on rather than myself.
Let me explain the situation. We moved to France just over a year ago basically because we felt we were working for nothing in the UK with high rents and so on. I had always fancied living in France anyway but not pursued it as my husband is not the most adventurous. When I saw an advert for a rented house in France I raised the issue which my husband poo-poo-ed as he does with most of my ideas. He came round to the idea when I explained how much better off we would be.
We remained in the UK long enough for my son to do his GCSES. He was disappointed with his results. If am perfectly honest so was I particularly when I thought about how I had encouraged him to revise and perhaps put school work over video games from time to time. That said he was also ill with time off school last year and he struggles with what I think is dyspraxia. We negotiated for special extra time in his exams so he could get things down on paper in the time slot. He did have some incredibly good grades in Mathematics, English Literature and RS. He had wanted to do History and Domestic Science but the places were full for those courses. Politics which is one of his passions was not even on offer.
My son is like me in sometimes really lacking self-belief. I am having to go back and remember just how rotten that is when you are young. The good thing with getting older is even when the negative self-talk hits, you do actually know you can overcome challenges.
I talk to him a lot and explain how people we know including in the family have done amazingly well in life with no or poor exam results. I also point out that despite my degree in Law from Cambridge University, I have never managed to get wealthy or even reasonably well off. I explain that sometimes you meet people that turn your life around in unpredictable ways. He looks at me and I can see what I am saying is not really registering. I remember being the same at his age feeling the older generation really did not get the traumas of the younger one.
It all started yesterday when I was having a really positive home education session with my younger son and daughter. We were looking into various aspects of World War Two. When Anderson shelters were mentioned in a video we were watching we decided to find out why they were named that. Then I came up with the idea we could build one on the land here over the weekend to get us working together as a family outdoors. My husband’s response to this from the other room was that I was being over-ambitious. My teen son followed this up by saying yes his dad was right and it was totally impractical. I lost it. I have asked both of them over the years to help me with home education and they don’t. I think that is fair enough for my teen but really resent that my husband does not help and resents my requests for him to get involved. He has delivered around 5 lessons in 4 years so you get the idea. This from the man who promised he would cover science and maths subjects leaving me to focus on the arts.
My take is that those who do bugger all should not expect perfection from those who are at least making an attempt to get it right!
Anyway, I lost my temper and then cried. We are in France. My teen son wants to return to the UK. He wants a life of his own but does not really know where to start.
Last night when we had calmed down a bit, we chatted. He thinks an apprenticeship would be his best option ideally related to theatre, film, history or politics. He would like to live with a friend but his friends are not in their own places yet and still living with parents. To his credit, he knows I love it here so does not want to drag me back to the UK. I of course want to support him so would happily return to the UK to get him on his feet. We have worked out we need another year to work it all out and in the meantime he can learn French. He says he has tried so I have said we can sit down every day and do a French lesson. We did this today and he made no mistakes at all so that’s a step in the right direction.
I guess this is a triumphant tale in that both of us felt ready to give up on the other yesterday but resolved it positively. I honestly though I was doing the right thing bringing us all here and we have all had a good year but I now need to realise my son has his own dreams that might not quite match with my own and that is OK. We are in this together
Reflections from me