The shadow of the Leaving Cert has passed, not so much like a nimbus cloud but more like an entire weather front that dominated all domestic horizons for the guts of twelve months if not longer. This means that LC son is now an undergraduate and there is a one way flow of money from my purse, happening at a speed that Usain Bolt would find hard to match even before his last World Championships.
I refrained from blogging about this whole life event as even my peri menopausal ,middle aged self absorption( actually now that I think of it there is a lot of similarities between myself as a teenager and now, on an emotional level at any rate…less spots though) allowed me to acknowledge that I perhaps needed a bit of distance to get some perspective. It was not I, who was sitting this milestone of a state examination. Indeed, if I had invested even a tiny proportion of the emotional & mental energy into my own LC way back in 1985…..the world would indeed,as my lovely sister in law Kate says, have been my mollusc. In the height of the tensions I nearly got a T-Shirt printed for myself, saying something along the lines…Attempting to survive the LC as an Irish Mammy…..it will NOT be fucking #grand unless study is DONE.
Anyone who recalls the ubiquitous ‘Mammy of Robert from Leaving Cert 2013 will get the gist. So there was LC son, never sure if he would have the persona of ‘Roberts Mammy ‘ or my version of the Dalai Lama dishing up his dinner and slipping him fish oil tablets for his brain. Oh lord…..the bribery, the cajoling, the beseeching, the threatening, it felt at times like trying to win a battle with a well determined two year old who had taken growth hormones. The carrot and the stick, the constant battle in my own head between approaches.”He’s old enough to have self directed learning” vying with he’s 18..studying is not a natural priority at 18, you have to push it up on his agenda. The irrefutable truth that I had absolutely no control whatsoever about the studying process or its’ outcomes nearly drove me insane.
So it went on, we survived the pre’s/mocks which in their favour, did the job for me, of reviewing my expectations and for LC SON GETTING HIS HEAD OUT OF HIS ASS. He revised his definition of study, which up to this point had been more along the lines of:
And so it came to pass and it was all done and dusted, no crisis or meltdowns and we had a fairly full recycling bin by the end of the two week exam period with the accompanying vows of I will never look at another (insert any random subject) again. It is a sad indictment of our second level education system that it actually violently turns people off a wide variety of subjects.
He had knuckled down to the best of my knowledge but even in this period never once did I feel the need to say ” Ah love come down for a break, you’ve done enough”. That though says more about me and the fact that I had fully embraced cramming mode on his behalf. The relief once it was over was unreal. I had little or no qualms about results day, once LC son was ‘happy enough’ I was going to be happy too. It was this realisation that made sense of all the naggy mammy stuff, the purpose of which really was, that on the day of the results he would be happy. I felt like a better Mammy with that realisation. So you have the wait in the car, watching other cars trundle in and out and the legend who drove to school in the tractor to collect his results. Then back he comes out with the big brown envelope, the quick scroll through, the instant points calculations. The realisation that 1st choice was probably not going to stack up but 2nd choice was a sure thing. I was just so impressed with the improvement from the pre’s. I thought he had done great. He had done great.
There it was this hyped up piece of paper which provides the shortest but not necessarily the best route to 3rd level education(for those who want it, those who can afford it and for those whose access to it is on their family’s radar) and certainly not the only route. There were houses all over the country with thrilled children, happy enough children and disappointed children. There is a mania to the whole thing and I found it difficult not to be swept into the vortex. Then we as parents (who depending on your parenting style have encouraged, cajoled, threatened, supported, hand held or ass kicked or a mixture of all the aforementioned and some) turn around within days of the LC being finished and even more so on results day and tell our children, that this piece of paper will only define them for a blink of an eye. Irrespective of how good, bad or indifferent their results are, it is going to be all about what they do next and sometimes even about what they do after that and after that again. They look at you and you can see the WTF’s float across their faces and you smile the sanguine smile of a Irish mammy who has survived her 1st LC at one step remove. So without rancour and with just the smallest hint of irony you say #BEGRAND…….. Life is wonderfully full of new beginnings.
(New beginnings though mean the end of somethings……like 1st born son moving out but that as they say is a whole other blog!)