My kid hates school. As a teenager, he already knows everything anyway, writes Suzanne Harrington
What do you do when your kid hates school? Do you go all Mary Poppins — come along now, spit spot — and bribe them with chocolate and future trips to Legoland or whatever? Yes, is the short answer. By any means necessary, including threats to send pets to the sausage factory. Go to school or Mr Fluffy gets it.
But what if your kid has size ten feet and their own bank account, is into Stormzy and Skepta, and couldn’t give a rat’s ass — or a hamster’s — about scholastic pursuits?
Do you replace chocolate with cash bribes? You couldn’t afford it, believe me.
Do you remind them of all the refugee kids their own age, unaccompanied minors stuck in hellhole camps and unsafe places, who’d give a kidney for free education? Save your breath.
It’s like being told to eat your broccoli because there are starving children elsewhere. Eye rolls. Issue dire warnings about a future of 3am shelf stacking? More eye rolls, with added deaf ears.
My kid hates school. Hates the teachers, hates the lessons, hates being there. He’s not bullied, or unpopular, or lacking brainpower. He just hates school.
As a teenager, he already knows everything anyway.
Why, he reasons, should he sit and learn pointless stuff — like algebra, or the composition of rocks — when he is not being paid to be there? What, he wonders, is the point, when he already knows how to read and write and add up? Because exams, I say, in my most convincing voice. So you don’t end up processing claws and beaks in the chicken nugget factory. Wrong thing to say. He loves chicken nuggets.
But if you phone up and say, I’m sorry my child won’t be in today because he hates school, the local authorities will be onto you like ferrets up a drainpipe. So what do you do, as your kid folds arms, digs heels, refuses to budge?
You lie, that’s what. I’m sorry my child won’t be in today because he has a minor physical ailment which will continue to travel around his body from his throat to his colon and back again, like a slo-mo hypochondriac Scalextric.
And what do you do when he has run out of body parts? Do you assist him in faking a psychological malaise? Is this good parenting, to tell school that your kid is feeling so stressed about his exams that he needs to work from home?
The reality is that any exam stress being suffered is entirely parental — you find yourself wondering how you have arrived at the position of worrying about algebra and the composition of rocks when no other bugger does.
My kid hates school. Hates everything about it, from the regulation shoe laces to the memorising of stuff he is expected to care about, but doesn’t.
Other people’s kids are having exam related nervous breakdowns, but not mine. Zero fox given. I waver between wanting to high five him, support him, and shoot him.