Sunday, 24 March 2013

A Malory Towers Adventure

Some time ago, my ex-husband bought the set of Malory Towers books by Enid Blyton for our daughter Charis' birthday.

With the wealth of wonderful Young Adult fiction available these days, it seemed an odd choice. What possible relevance could such old fashioned books published in the forties have for children today?    The one dimensional characters enjoying midnight feasts and lacrosse games whilst at boarding school  did not seem easy to relate to. The books ended up being donated to a charity shop - but not before we all had a good giggle at the rather stilted dialogue and narration. Spiffing!

Little did we know, the journey Charis was on with her life (and in particular with her education) was about to lead her to a destination not too dissimilar to the world portrayed within the pages of those books.

When Charis announced that she wanted to be a doctor, it made perfect sense. I had never even thought about possible careers for her but as soon as she mentioned it, it seemed so obvious. She is very academic and hard working and has an unusually logical, matter of fact approach to life and problems. She also has a caring and empathic side to her that revealed itself when she did work experience in an old folks home. She respects people. She is fascinated by the workings of the human body. She is incredibly capable. If I were to go into hospital. I would want someone just like her to be responsible for any life and death decisions pertaining to me.

I always try to support and encourage all of my children in whatever ways I can. Sometimes it can backfire and certainly my relationship with one of my daughters was tested to the limit when my attempts to help her move her life forward in a positive way was perceived as unreasonable pressure. Parenting can mean walking the fine line between doing the right thing and getting it totally wrong.

I am as close to 100% certain as it is possible to be that what we are doing for  Charis, is the right thing. 

The school Charis currently attends is the local comprehensive. It is very convenient for us but I am under no illusions about the quality of the education the establishment has to offer. It has served her well enough thus far. She is predicted As and A*s in her GCSEs and she has a strong friendship group. I believe that she has learned many life lessons that have contributed to the roundness of her character and her resilience as an individual. However, in order to succeed in her ambition to be a doctor, we felt that the sixth form college that forms part of the campus would not necessarily be geared to meet her needs.

We started to look at the alternatives.

My husband has worked in private education for many years and he recognised in Charis the qualities  that would enable her to thrive in that environment. He suggested that she attend some open days.

The school that caught her imagination - the school that she could see herself a member of - was one that my husband had worked for previously. His familiarity with the entrance procedure and knowledge of members of staff meant that the process Charis was about to go through was not too daunting. She spent a weekend at the school taking entrance exams, being interviewed and doing auditions for the music department. She took the whole thing in her stride and impressed the people that mattered. She was offered a scholarship for a place with boarding.

Can Charis make the transition to lacrosse from baseball with a brussel sprout stalk?

I was unbelievably proud of her and could see that she had grown as a person simply from taking part in the admissions process. 

There were two reasons for not wanting Charis to take the place offered:

1) I would miss her terribly - especially all the help she gives so freely and willingly.
2) Even with the scholarship, there would be a considerable financial commitment.

There were countless reasons to ignore 1 and 2 above.

So come September, Charis will be packing her suitcase with posh new uniform and heading off for a Malory Towers style adventure at boarding school. 

In the meantime, I am tightening my purse strings and trying to find ways of economising that do not compromise our lifestyle. I am on a mission to live better for less - to fund the Malory Towers adventure without feeling like the token poor person in a more affluent world. I am actually really enjoying myself with it. You could even say I'm having a spiffing time - marvellously spiffing!

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