Tuesday 25 April 2017

Smug Married: My son best not study my track record for motivation

Motherhood is forcing a very non-academic Aine O'Connor to learn new tricks as Number One follows her path

Aine O'Connor

BACK in 1406 I finished my degree, tucked it under my arm and emigrated instantly.

'Twas what you did. We came back at the call of a tiger, and blah blah blah but, apart from the wonderful years of wandering around town, making cups of Simon's coffee last hours, afternoon cinema sessions and oh yes, studying, the best thing to come out of college were some fantastic friendships. Friendships so fantastic they have endured 20 years.

Of this motley crew of language graduates, I am the only one not to have furthered my further education. All of the others have retrained and got letters after their names, nothing less than a Masters between them, usually more. I just never again felt the call of study. So I didn't.

Actually, I tell a lie, I applied for a Masters when I came back from emigrating, I'd heard the Tiger's call a bit early and found myself working in a video shop, where, surrounded as I was by 45 trillion films, my pet hate was people asking "do you have any good films?" So I applied for a Masters in journalism. And got turned down. Yeah, yeah, I know.

I used to think if I won loads of money -- or even if I earned it, but I've always liked an element of realism in my fantasies, something attainable such as a random Lotto win as opposed to something daft such as creating my own wealth -- then I would return to study. Maybe do an art foundation course or a degree in English.

Now I think I would just go straight for the frittering. Nothing too difficult or too worthy, jewellery, cruises, unnecessary surgery and Cougar training, most likely.

In short, I have no desire to study. None. Yet in my capacity as Mammy, I find myself in charge of co-ordinating the Junior Cert study of a very unwilling student.

So far this co-ordination programme has mostly manifested as "have you done any study?" "er ... some." "Well some's not enough. Let's write a plan."

Allegedly, there are children who study UNBIDDEN. A friend used to boast that she did maths problems for fun, but she always emerged from these maths sessions remarkably elaborately made-up, so I doubted her devotion to Pythagoras even then.

No one in my immediate gene pool ever burst into spontaneous study and that great tradition continues, alas, with my own spawn.

I wasn't there, but Beloved claims not to have been too prone to the study himself. I had thought that perhaps Number Two might be One of Them. She showed early promise, but turns out her interest in pencil cases was just an interest in pencil cases and now she is showing all the signs of morphing into her brother, someone who would rather be chatting, dancing, singing, acting, googling (non-academic) than studying.

But the first serious hurdle looms -- mocks in a few weeks, the real thing in June. For years, I've been imagining something will change, something will fall into place, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. But nothing has fallen into place except the slightly nauseating realisation that here is the bloody bridge.

He'll only turn 15 in the middle of the Junior Cert but studying is meant to be his life. And I, who tired of studying 20 years ago, am meant to be his impetus, mentor, encourager, threatener? The longer this parenting lark goes on the more ill-equipped I think I am for it.

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