I’ve done this before and afterwards wished to heck that I hadn’t, but there you go – call me predictable, call me a glutton for punishment – call me Britney Spears, because Oops, I did it again. 😦
There’s a bag in the *priests’ hole in The Girl’s bedroom which is stuffed to the gills – wait a sec and I’ll take a pic to prove it is properly stuffed. There.
And during the excavations of old photographs in albums; fallen from albums, never been close to being put in an album, I also came across an assortment of biscuit tins, ancient boxes and buff folders containing all manner of paraphernalia – most of them Birth and Marriage certificates (the oldest dating back to 1907 which was my Grandfather’s Birth Cert – 118 years old! – the piece of paper, not him. Now that would be something to blog about).
In one of the A4 buff envelopes I found School Reports dating back to my Infant school – the earliest being when I was 8 or 9 – saying encouraging things about my writing, painting and arithmetic skills. These gave me a warm glow.
Fast forward to Middle School (yes, we still have them here in Bedfordshire) and the whole things takes on a less cheery note. I am crap at Games allegedly. I lack the drive and enthusiasm required. Y’know what, forget allegedly, I seriously hated outdoors sports. My thighs would get overheated in the cold, then they’d burn and itch once I was changed. And DO NOT EVEN MENTION THE SHOWERS. I was okay with PE because it was indoors; the occasional toss of a beanbag whilst standing on a wooden bench was achievable; I was in the warm and there were loos within desperate streaking distance, but hockey? Netball? Running?No thanks. Not for me.
Finally alight upon the halcyon (as I’ve always remembered them, anyway) days of Upper School and again there’s a person I don’t recognise as me being alluded to from the sheets of the report pages. I am not focussing on my tasks in hand, I am not confident enough to begin an idea and see it through to a satisfactory conclusion. I lack courage in my own convictions and I am being distracted by other pupils. I am allowing my nerves to get the better of me under exam conditions. I am not displaying adequate revision technique for my teacher to believe I could pass an O-Level let alone remain for A-Levels in 2 years’ time.
And I have nothing but happy memories of Upper School. I thought I’d done so well.
My certificates range from swimming a measly width of the Primary school pool, through a couple of Pitmans typewriting exams, to a beautifully designed one in which I receive (along with 4 passes) an ungraded in both History and Biology at O-level/ I am winded. Ungraded! – is Ungraded better than a Fail or worse? (Don’t answer. I don’t want to know). I don’t remember the U’s. I do remember the giddy high of the English Literature A level result – because I was told halfway through my studies that I didn’t have a hope of seeing a C grade – so Yaboo to that little threat and that’s one to frame if I ever find the bag of frames that’s stored safely under a bed somewhere.
Maybe I was more an ‘I’ll bloody shown ’em’ kind of a gal rather than the studious plodder I erroneously remember myself being. Seems all I needed to get me over my ennui was the threat of failure.
I ‘ve spoken to my counsellor about this, because my parents always said ‘well, as long as you tried your best’ which okay, is a fairly good thing to say to a struggling teen, so long as it’s followed up with things like: ‘how do you feel about it?’ and ‘how can we support you/help you get a better result next time?’ which is (hopefully) what I used to say to the Girl – not that she wasn’t ever short of excellent at everything she did. But I was never afforded the luxury (should I say ‘basic right‘ here?) to speak about it, go into further depth, discuss the report and my shortcomings with my parents. If we had’ve done, then I’m sure I would have felt encouraged and supported and better able to turn my particular corner of mediocrity and ‘showed ’em all’ what I was made of. I do feel let down a lot by my parents (I hasten to say ‘blame’ because blame doesn’t achieve anything) and wish they’d seen me a more of a person than an irritation who asked too many questions and spent too much time with her head ‘stuck in a book’. Stuck! I know
So along with my silly little girl-to-teen-to-adulthood-to-parenthood diaries spanning about 25 years, I fear I may well have a ceremonial burning of these shameful certificates and school reports. Because – what if my great great granddaughter ever got her hands on them on a future episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and she’s a Nobel/Booker Prizewinner. It’s bad enough feeling the embarrassment from here, but could you imagine the humiliation I’d feel beyond my grave?
*might not be a ‘true’ priests’ hole, could just be a weird-shaped cupboard