Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Parental Pitface

The school holidays are both loved and dreaded by French schoolchildren. Dreaded by those who have not exactly excelled in the twice-termly tests that is. Parents of children who, for whatever reason, do not do well in controles also dread the beginning of the holidays.

Thus it was yesterday that I almost had a heart-attack at the results presented to me worriedly by my eldest. The details of some of the results are not for the faint-hearted, so I will not dwell on them here but they did rather ruin my evening.

I am consoling myself with two extenuating circumstances: new school and new teaching methods. As I said elsewhere, he has a lot of rote-learning to do this year which he is not used to, together with a teacher who makes them apply their knowledge differently.

In the face of such a situation, the parental pitface takes on a craggy, crumbly aspect. One has visions of a bright child re-doing his CM2 year. The shame of it, and the devastating effect it would have on him would be truly appalling. We can, however, use such results as a wake-up call. He is obviously not doing what he is supposed to do, or not enough, and must keep his brain switched on at all times. He told me he has test nerves, which is normal, but he'll just have to deal with this. We all have to. I told him he must consider tests as an opportunity to show what he knows, not fear what he doesn't know.

With some questions, he didn't answer the question fully and lost stupid points because of this. It happens to everyone, but if he can get to grips with this simple action, he'll already be doing much better. Other questions paralysed him because he couldn't remember the lesson, but if he had thought logically and used his common sense, he could have answered a number of questions anyway.

Luckily we had our NG come round to reinforce what I said to him - it's amazing how one's children really don't believe what you tell them, and to give him tips on dealing with his father who is going to go ballistic this weekend. He is one of those who insists his child is top of the class willy nilly, which is a pointless demand. He should be doing his best, that is the most one can insist on.

So, this afternoon, we sat down and went through some of the worst questions. It struck me that he's an intellectual butterfly flitting around the questions, and losing interest if he doesn't understand immediately. He lacks a methodological approach and determination to get to the answer. Put him on a video game and work out strategy, problem-solving etc. and he'll sit at it for ages, but 'irrelevent' questions provoke no interest and no desire to get to the solution.

Ah, boys.

We'll get there if it kills us, however!


  1. Don't take this the wrong way, Sarah. It's not a dig, implied criticism, whatever. But I am so hugely relieved there was no blogosphere available to my folks in the 50s and 60s on the days when I brought home my school reports.

    Have you considered allowing your lad a right of reply ? If as I understand it, your blog was conceived mainly as a 21st century archive, to afford you an outlet for free expression, and for the benefit of future historians, then think how much more interesting it would be if we could hear "both sides of the story". I appreciate there are worries at the back of one's mind where children are concerned, but with you being in France, and most readers being in Britain, there's probably no need to get too over-protective on that score, though it goes without saying that Mum always knows best, and must have the last word. What does ng think ?

  2. No, Colin, this is my space and I can use it as I like. He doesn't like typing yet, anyway.

    I just wanted to get the frustration of having a bright boy do badly in his tests off my chest, but I feel I am not alone in the world in wishing that. My mother said exactly the same things about my big brother!

  3. I agree 100% about it being your space, Sarah. You're allowed to say what you wish, for whatever reason. You are not beholden to others, least of all folk of a Socratic disposition with a tendency to put folk on the spot with their awkward questions.

    All I would say is that you have a facility whereby folk - and that would include complete strangers- are able to comment, and I have availed myself of that facility.
    I would fully understand if you wanted to confine comment to a close family circle - and I believe there is a facility for doing that. But for as long as there is, as I say, a facility for free unfettered comment, then people will say what's in their mind. My own site was conceived to make it easier for folk to do just that, with its daemon option, although anyone, including myself, could simply use the anonymous log-in provided here. But we know each other well enough, surely, to sign off under our own names ?

    Haven't heard from ng recently. Is she OK ?

  4. Sarah,

    ' just wanted to "say" how much I've enjoyed reading your wonderful "zesty" personalised blog, since finding the link from one of your comments in a Telegraph Blog. Great stuff. We probably have some different views on some big things but I can relate to you in some regards, also living abroad for about the same amount of time and at about the same age...with kids too.

    I just got through reading your blogs from 2005. How's that book coming along, btw? I love the idea behind it. I know I've had dreams where someone seems so real I wonder if they aren't real somewhere somehow..

    Anyway, I love your writing style. I married an American but she was, to my dismay, not an Anglophile but always a Francophile!


    P.S. How did you manage to pull of the "Labels" in blogger? Any tips?

  5. Thanks, Duncan, for all your jolly comments.

    The book has ground to a halt for the time being as I have just no head space to get back into it. I'm at the niggly stage of having to work at modifications and if I lose the thread it takes me time to get back into the swing of it. I had intended to work on it in August, but life got in the way.

    As for labels, if you use Beta Blogger you can find them in the list of things you can add in the Settings section. I you are not using Beta, it's a lot more complicated and you have to install Greasemonkey etc etc. You can find out how to do it in Blogger help. Actually, I think I blogged about it and put in the links, so if you do a search on 'labels' or look in 'My Categories' which will send you to Delicious, you'll find out how to do it.

  6. Sure, there's friendly "jolly" tone to Duncan's comments, a welcome antidote some might say to my mild but apparently unwelcome inquisition. But tucked away in the middle is his comment about having some different views on big things, without any clues as to what they might be. Is Duncan's post perhaps the leading edge of a bigger epistle that is to follow? Was the post above by way of a softening-up exercise ? If so, will the ones that follow still qualify for the "jolly" tag, once we learn what's really on his mind, I ask myself ?

  7. Colin, I'm not sure what your question is. You can, of course, say what you like here.

    As for Duncan, what he means by BIG things becomes obvious if you take a look at his blog which has a certain theme to it.

    As for NG, she is running about like a blue-arsed fly at the moment, getting her assoc up and going, trying to paint, setting up 2 exhibitions simultaneously and attending important occasions.

    She'll be back...

  8. Oh, and when I mentioned Duncan's jolly comments, I was referring to all the ones he's left on other posts going as far back as last year.

  9. Ooooooh,I seeeeeee. You were referring to Duncan's blog, not your own!

    Puts one in mind somewhat of the Charge of the Light Brigade. That was a case of crossed wires too, I believe which resulted in us Brits charging off in the wrong direction ......

    Anyway, may I wish you, your brood, your house guests inter alia a most splendid day. (In England I always say "Have a splendid day" at the supermarket checkout.)

    Here in Antibes, the sun has finally shown its face again. Sadly, my coffers are depleted, following the roof repair, but with passable plonk in Shoppi at €1.95 a bottle, who gives a ........ ?

  10. I'm actually still here, but doing 36 hour days, Colin. Tonite at last I could read dearest ED's latest blogging.

    Firstly, what did I think about ED's eldest's slip up on tests...well I think new school, new house, new friends are part of it...but actually extreme stress for a particular hard pressure put upon him by his Daddy that he can only be first of the class, point barre!

    So, we had a little chat together, firstly to say that being the best was in no way being first of the class!!!Being the best, is doing your best...being the best of friends, and doing everything the very best you can the right way in every sense of the word. Also, knowing that when there is a problem, the first thing to find out is...why? Then when you know why, you can start finding a reasonable solution to work it out and better the situation.

    As for the pressure on him from his Daddy, he knows its coming, he knows it's going to be a bit messy and very hard to cope with...but when you know its coming it's like a slap on the face or a nasty expect it and brace yourself peacefully. It's like learning to ride a bicycle...bracing yourself quietly takes practice!!!!!Reaction pre-conditionné de Pavlov!!That's what NG said to ED's wonderful eldest.If you know it's coming you can control the thing, and little by little even dominate the situation.

    He is really very bright, and gets bored quickly and is so obssessed with not being first he get's tennis elbow! That's what NG said because she loves him muchley. Hope it will help for the first encounter...and get better all the time. It's most worrying for ED to know she's sending himl into the ring with the, I think the best solution is to teach him to cope with the bull - because no way is the bull going to dissappear, and then find out why he turns off his brain if it isn't his "thing". Personally I think its because he is exceptionally bright and therefore in not very interested in the run of the mill, and even looks down on it a bit.

    You have to be very placid or very grown up to know that the down to tacks ground work is the only way to attain summits in every field!

    Sun is here too - and had a nice gin with Ed & C° this evening which drowned grey spirits, and put a bit of punch back into a very weary over booked NG.

    The plumbago on my balcony is still in flower - are the floweres resisting in Antibes whilst awaiting for surpise shocks upon them in November.

    The garden in the little Red House is still full of floweres and today it was really warm. Beautiful Ulysse was cosily absorbing the heat on ED's car when I spoiled it all by turning up with Mon Jules my little dog, his dreaded usurper of house....and life space.

    I swear that cat has facial expressions - the way he looked at Mon Jules this evening was hilarious.


  11. No worries, no epistles coming here! Thjis is Sarah's blog. I'm jsut visting. LOL.

    Anyway, yes, I commeted all over the place. As I said I really enjoyed reading the blog on a rather dingy cold night. What good writing.

    Sarah, I hope you get back into the book when able.

    ...oh and thanks for the tips. I haven't treid ou the beta version of blogger yet. I suppose I should try.

  12. Good morning there. Just wanted to add that I liked your "cloud map" too and so figured out how to add one to mine. Thx.

  13. Yes, it was in visiting other blogs that I discovered the cloud, site counter, and other blog directories which inspired me to add them to mine.

  14. Hi ng

    Lovely to hear from you again, and to know that "ED" is not having to cope on her own with all the problems associated with being a single parent. It must be very difficult for her and the lad. I remember from my own teaching days those parents' evenings where sometimes it was one separated partner who brought the child, and sometimes the other, and there was invariably a particular kind of tension. That's only to expected, I guess. Neither parent wants to feel they're being left out of the loop, so to speak.

    I'm going to stop here for now, if you don't mind. Now that my own blog is accepting comments from everyone, could we continue this there ? And to get things started, what say I copy and paste your comment to my blog. When you get there, you'll see why I'm in need of someone like yourself who brings with them some decency, some commonsense and, most important of all, SANITY !

    Have just returned from my first walk in months on the Cap d'Antibes. It's the closest I've ever been to earthly paradise, yet I passed hardly a single person or vehicle. All my cares just fade away when I go there, and I return with a clear mind, full of ideas, full of renewed optimism. I consider myself hugely fortunate and priviliged to live where I do.In fact our very first visit to Antibes was the result of going on the internet to find somewhere that did a reasonably-priced (well, it could have been worse!) millenium package, ie 7 years ago almost, and the Baie Dorée hotel on the Cap duly obliged! We were instantly smitten with Antibes, and bought our first property that same year.

  15. ok Colin! Copiez-collez comme vous voudrez, and I the "beginner" in blogging will try to get back on to yours again.

    Last time it threw me away like somme old kleenex becos I am not Google!!

    It's thanks to ED that I knew what a blog was.....shame on me, before then I had never even heard of it, and had not spoken english for more than a few hours at a time for fifty years!!!

    It took all that time to turn me into a real frog....and in no time back to being a hybrid-btit-americano-frog...and grandmama was Russian!

    However I am french to the roots of my hair and no english public school can change that...France is my homeland, for all the resons you can imagine, but also the one's you talk about when your walking near Antibes.

    Everyday ordinary culture I don't no anything about in english, and can't understand a word in the british papers - or television either. For me Columbo is French, and Horatio too!

    But all the brit past comes rushing over me like a tidal wave as soon as I am near ED and C°....and must admit that the british male is definitely much more of a gentleman in every way than his french counterpart...and not only was I married to one ....but reproduced clones of the same fibre!

  16. ng

    You sound more interesting by the minute. Just promise me one thing -that you're not ED "trolling" on her own blog. I'd hate to think that you were to ED what "Anne Gilbert" is to Colin Randall.

    PS Did you know that the two are now going off together for a while ?
    I wonder what Mrs. Randall thinks about this virtual marriage-à-trois ?

    I shall now proceed to copier and collier. Safe journey across cyberspace, and when you arrive you must ignore the cr*p from you know-who that precedes you. Once the regulars have seen it, and realized just how far gone he is, I'll move it to where it properly belongs - la poubelle.

  17. PS

    That should of course have been ménage à trois. And coller, not collier.

  18. I think I'm a bit too far into serenité for the "collier", Colin.

    As for that poor devil Richard d'Orleans - he is of course a candidate for Eugenisme, & most rapidly so may not reproduce.....

    I'm a frog-hybrid, but I feel sorry for him - neither fish but very foul!!

    I've sent you a much more explicit mail explaining his behaviour medically - but not to be published, of course!!!!!

    Off to Ed's for family supper...YOUPIE...


    If so, he must of course be put down immediately.


  19. Well, ng you remember that wandering minstrel in Another Place who serenaded you for a while, indeed was for a while seeking your hand in marriage? Well, you may recall that he was turned out to be someone else, operating under a new pseudonym (thank goodness for Latin - one musn't say false, but it's OK to say pseud...). In other words, James H was what we call a troll. Nothing wrong with that - I've done it myself in the past, several times ( remember G,J,etc ?). But Anne Gilbert, she of the cringe-making poetry, had us all fooled. Until that is she began whingeing about the dustbins on Colin Randall's blog. As you know, only one person sees dustbins against blog comments, and that's the blogmeister him/herself, so the "lady" inadvertently blew her own cover. And was not at all amused to be outed by that unkind "Anonymous" with the frightful spelling. My own spelling you note is not perfect (see PS above) but is much better than Anon's. I would never dream of writing "to quite" when I meant to say "too quiet", would I? So the real Anne, behind the pretty dress, turned out to be the last person one would suspect! And to think I once accused her of being the rottweiler in drag !

    Took Anne a little while to recover his/her composure, it did.When you've spent your life creating headlines that say "Exposed!" , it's not nice to be on the receiving end. Sad to see her overdoing the mud-slinging psychiatry a bit for a while. Thought we had a relationship of sorts. Anyway, ng, I thought that as you're a pal I'd take the opportunity to put all this into the "public domain", as they say, not just for benefit, but anyone else who's reading. That's an expression that journalists use a lot - into the public domain. Changing the subject: thanks for the smashing post Tips for Tipplers on "D&D". You really did me proud. Takes away the bad taste from yesterday ! Well, some of it, anyway.

  20. Heavens, I've way too much to do to be inventing pseuds and personas. What you see is what you get here!

  21. Maybe it's because we can't make babies, us fellas, that we feel this urge to make virtual clones of ourselves. Sorry to suggest that you, Sarah, a 24/7 mother, would ever waste valuable time on such frivolity. In fact, come to think of it, none of the three "trolls" that I know of (inc myself) were females.

  22. 21 comments?! Whoa.
    You've got some devoted readers...

  23. Reading the comment above from the mysterious "d" ( no, not from my clone stable I assure you) reminds me of one other thing. Almost half of those 21 comments were from "Colin", more if you count the replies. But a goodly number, this one included, were really from that daemoncompanion of his ("hippo"). And this would seem as good an occasion as any to announce that Colin was wrong when he said on his D & D blog that the first H of the acronym HIPPO meant "hypercritical". He was misinformed on that, and in so doing overlooks a side of my versatile and generous spirit, if treated with a modicum of courtesy and consideration. In fact the H stands for HYPERACTIVE.

    quod erat demonstratum (since that's now 10 Comments you've had, you lovely level-headed Sarah, from the Colin/hippo duo)

  24. Well, I also have a full-time job which takes a chunk of persona-inventing time out of the day...

  25. Are we allowed to know what it is, LLH Sarah ? Or would that be straying into dangerous La Petite Anglaise territory ?

    We don't want to get you into trouble, do we ? But hold on a minute. It's not like that, is it ? Since we don't know where you work, or what you do, there can't have been any indiscretions about work colleagues, or clues as to their identities etc. At least bot so far .... But LLH Sarah is unlikely to rush in where angels fear to tread.

    I have a favour to ask Sarah. Can you open a new draft page and see if it accepts images ? I'm tearing my hair out here trying to upload an image to my next post. I assume it's those bloody servers again, not my laptop, but would like confirmation.

  26. Well, Colin, I just 'push paper' to keep a roof over my head and enable me to be around properly for the boys.

    As for photos, I did as you suggested and had no problems. Maybe your photo is too big?

  27. Thanks S. That helps to narrow it down.
    Are you the only Brit at your palce of work ?


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