Friday, 17 July 2015

Guiding our children

Teen has just made his GCSE choices for next year. Much to my chagrin, he has dropped all foreign languages. I did everything in my power to make him change his mind: sulk, stare, refuse to make cakes, undo all the bolts in his bed so it fell apart when he got in...but actually, after some rather pathetic standoffs which I was never going to win, I grudgingly backed down.

He is never going to be a linguist. He is painfully shy, so even if he went to Spain, he wouldn't utter a single palabra in Spanish (I looked that up). He'd rather stuff paella up his nose. And so, Computer Science is by far the better option. Because that's his calling. It's been obvious since he was two, when he beat me at Pac Man.


As a parent, I find it hard not to live vicariously through my children. Teen in particular is very different to me; the Arts are a foreign land to him, so why should he sit through countless piano lessons if he doesn't enjoy them? Even if he is damn good at playing (*bites knuckles with frustration*).

I need to learn from my own parents' mistakes. I come from a Science-based stable; Oxford Maths scholar for a brother (I know! No wonder I have issues), a 1st class Physicist for a Dad, Uncles and Aunts from Finance and other unpalatable - to me - numerical worlds. My mum, the arty one, was sadly absent from my life from the age of 14.  And so, although I was allowed to indulge in music - and even joined the National Youth Theatre for a year - my Dad always advised me to get a proper job. I desperately wanted to do something with the Arts, but I didn't know what, and I was scared of not making enough money. Of not having a place to live. Of living in a squat (because that's what all artists do, obviously).

And so, after university, I went to work in an IT company, qualified in HR, married a software developer.

It was fine for a while. But I wish I'd been braver. I wish I'd had the balls to say, "Fuck it! I'm going to live in a squat because I'm not going to die (although I might get a minor fungal infection), and I might have a chance at making it in whatever I want to fucking do in life. FUCK!'

And in fact, funnelling myself into a life expected of me did me no favours at all. In the end, aged 41, it all crumbled around me; I left my husband, became a pilot (a pilot!), changed my job, started writing, started taking photos. I don't live a traditional life now - and it suits me. But the change came at a cost to my family - my wonderful children - and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

So I need to learn from my mistakes. I need to concentrate on what makes my sons tick and help them however I can. If this means finding work experience for Teen in some techie place where he can sit in a cubical and solve quadratic equations all day long - so be it. My life shouldn't seep into theirs.

I'm just the taxi driver.

And then the fun began...

Brilliant blog posts on


  1. Loved this post!

  2. It's so difficult not to push your own hopes and dreams onto your children! I am failing miserably. Good luck!

  3. I'm not sure what I would try and filter my children into - yes I love the arts and English and words and theatre and all that and I would be quite happy if one or both of them turned out to be brilliant writers and went into proper journalism or wrote a bestseller but I don't think I would be too bothered if they excelled at computer programming or athletics or something (both completely alien to me). I think what we do tend to do is assume that our children will do just that - "excel" at something. It will be more difficult to accept completely average skills! :-) Thanks for linking Lottie X #thetruthabout


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