Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Last night, Joshua brought home the option pathway recommended by his school which will lead to the best possible outcome for GCSE success.  It took me back to 1986 when I took my GCSE options.  I still vividly recall how my academic year across the country were the first to take the transition from GCEs and CSEs to plain GCSEs. The doubts and criticisms that they would be easy, worry that coursework would be abused and undertaken by relatives and friends and that the exams would be soft.  Concern that employers would not take them seriously and that within a decade the educational establishments would realise their error and revert back to the old system, leaving me and thousands of others with seemingly useless qualifications.  How wrong they were.

Looking through Joshua's option paths I found myself longing to be back at school.  I envied him slightly that he's now starting the point in life where his choices become important.  Reading through the subject summaries I found myself excited at the content of some of the courses, and at times got rather carried away trying to convince him how interesting and exciting some subjects were, which inevitably turned out to be the subjects he's really not interested in!  Looking at the History content, he liked the course, but did not relish the idea of writing long essays, the same for the compulsory English Literature.  I was baffled. Strange boy!  How could he possibly find essay writing a chore?  I still remember walking into my A'level English Literature exam literally champing at the bit to get started on the four essays I had to write in three hours - was I mad?  Probably.

I'm thrilled he's being forced to do a language.  Seems cruel, I know, but I have the benefit of parental hindsight.  My bitterness at not being allowed to do languages because apparently getting 91% in German and 27% in French supposedly meant I didn't have a grasp of languages, so because I failed French I wasn't allowed to take the  German GCSE I so passionately wanted to do.  To this day it still baffles and angers me.  I'm glad that Joshua has to learn a second language - it's a skill he'll be grateful for one day.  To my delight he favours German.  He's getting the chance I never had.

In sciences he prefers physics and chemistry.  I was a biology fan.  He likes Maths and all things technical.  I liked all things creative.

But what I really like is that he has sat with me, talked with me and discussed his feelings about subjects, what he loves, what he hates, where his strengths are, where his weaknesses are, his doubts, his fears, his worries and his concern at getting halfway through courses and being disillusioned.  I'm finding it a privilege that he is sharing all this with me and not just ticking random boxes or picking subjects that he's comfortable with or naturally gifted at in an attempt to get the decision making done and out of the way.  He's impressed me with how mature he's being about it all.  He has a few weeks to choose, so now I'm stepping back for a few days to let him work out his own routes.  I'll be there to support him, to advise him and where necessary to push him, but ultimately, the choices are his.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Dib Dib Dib

Following last week's exciting moment where Sam became a real Beaver Scout after his investiture, which involved receiving his woggle, badges and learning to shake hands as a lefty, he proudly came home from school earlier in the week with a notification from that as it was World Thinking Day on the 22nd, he was allowed to wear his Beaver uniform to school. 

He has waited with excited anticipation for me to sew the badges onto his sweater for a few days now, but last night because I was only halfway through putting them on when it became bedtime, I had to promise him I would absolutely,without fail, ensure they were sewn on ready for the morning.  His excitement and reliance on me to carry out my promise struck me.  He's just a little dude, no real worries and no concerns about life, according to me, an adult.  Important things to him are being allowed to play on the monkey bars at school, being allowed to watch a DVD in Mum and Dad's bed before bedtime and making sure badges are sewn on a jumper in time to display them at school.  The funny thing is, none of them are achievement badges or skills badges, just the Scout logo, and the district, county and colony badge - but they were still important to him and my promise was clung to.

It's easy to get carried away with the seemingly major important things in life and to forget the little things that really matter.  To Sam it REALLY mattered that these badges were on in time, so last night, after finishing the last badge I went quietly into his room to see if he was awake and he was - just about.  Holding the jumper up to his weary eyes I whispered to him that they were all done and ready for him to wear the next day.  A huge smile appeared, the eyes opened widely and I received the most enormous hug and kiss.

It was a special moment.  There's plenty of time left yet for him to worry about the things I consider big.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Valentines Day - Romantic or Ridiculous

With the passing of Valentine's Day yesterday I was again bemused by the plethora of differing attitudes and reactions one date in our calendar can invoke.  Many years ago, when I was very young, I was firmly in the camp that the day was purely set aside for the desperate separates of society clinging fast to the hope that somebody somewhere was soppy enough and dopey enough to waste money trying to convince them they were a good catch!  The card shop windows swamped with cute teddies and giant love hearts caused a shake of the head and a small laugh as men all over the town centre were rushing around with bunches of red roses under one arm, chocolates under another and a Clinton's carrier bag hanging off their fingers.  I often wondered how they'd stop the roses wilting in their offices for the next few hours and whether they'd get home in time to make it to the restaurant with the 'special' menu for the night at the bargain price of 50% more than the usual specials of the night - because that was romantic - apparently.

Then I got married.

And for the first few years I stood firm to my belief it was all a load of nonsense and got nothing.

Then I started to get the hump.

People started saying that you didn't need a special day to declare your love to the one you love, as you should do that every day.  Yes, you should.  You should tell the one you love that you love them.  It's not necessary to do it every day (some may disagree), but it should be regularly enough for them to be in no doubt that you do love them.  In this respect Andy far outranks me in that - he's the more sentimental of the two of us.  Having recently attended The Marriage Course, it was firmly established that Andy thrives on affirmation and words of love, I thrive on practical stuff - presents.  Does that make me shallow and a prime candidate for the lure of the Clinton card shop, Thornton's selection and Interflora roses - well, yes, apparently it does! 

I never thought I'd see the day I'd back down to admit it, but I now love Valentine's Day - to an extent.

Looking into the origins of Valentine's Day it seems the most common opinion is that Emperor Claudius II decided that marriage turned men into useless wimps, unable to man up to the requirements of war and thus outlawed that all young men should be banned from the banns.  Apparently young Valentine, who is rumoured to have been one of three men in history, but commonly believed to be a priest, continued in secret to marry young people, believing the institution of marriage to be firmly part of God's plan for humankind, thus opposing the beliefs and instructions of the Emperor, who at the time had a rather strong penchant for chopping the heads off the odd Christian or two. Legend has it that the Emperor took exception to this and imprisoned the priest and from there the rumours abound.  Some believe Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter and before his execution wrote her a note declaring his love, signing it 'from your Valentine'. A hopeless romantic dying for the love of his love.  Others believe the Emperor actually rather liked him, until he tried to convert him to Christianity, at which point he incensed the Emperor who ordered his execution, thus martyring him - the date of death established in both cases as February 14th.  Others believe that February 14th was declared Valentine's Day as an alternative to the following day's pagan festival of Lupercalia, believed to increase the fertility of women who were flogged with the blood soaked hides of sacrificed goats - but from there I digress and leave you to your own research on that one.

So, Valentine's Day.  Romantic or Ridiculous?  A bit of both really.  But for me, the ridiculous is fast being overtaken by the romantic.  It can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be, but for one day of the year, to make an effort to do something for the one you love is surely not too much.  Which leads me to my earlier comment of loving Valentine's Day - to an extent.  Keep it fun, keep it within budget and keep it with someone truly special.

A tale of two Lukes

Do you ever get those days when you can leave something lying around for ages, then one day, somebody will make a random comment that sets you on a trail of research and discovery? 

I had that this morning.

I'm reading through the gospel of Luke and have taken to using some notes that are designed for both groups and individuals, which are entitled Luke, A New Hope.  Andy noticed them and asked if I realised that the Star Wars episode that introduces Luke Skywalker is also called A New Hope.  I had no idea, but it did make me wonder whether George Lucas had an upbringing based upon a Biblical faith and lo and behold I found out he had a strong Methodist upbringing.  Later in life he turned to heavily basing his Star Wars 'force' on  Eastern philosophies, eventually declaring himself a Buddhist Methodist.

Whether Luke, the gospel writer and Luke Skywalker were ever connected in George Lucas's mind, who knows?  But I found it rather intriguing.