I hope all thought of Eleven Plus papers will leave the minds of adults and children during the unfolding events of Christmas Day. The very presence of presents, food, TV, DVDs, games, walks, laughter and talk will surely overcome the anxious hearts and feelings of mothers and fathers.
It was the tradition on my grandfather’s farm for a ceremonial trip to the fields. We would pick the mealies (corn on the cob) and return to the farm house for a large breakfast. My grandfather would then climb into his truck and disappear for a few hours. He would always return with one or two `guests’. The `guests’ would be people who were about to endure Christmas Day on their own.
One year he arrived rather late with an elderly lady who wore one of cloche hats – in purple. The hat looked lifeless and drab. The old lady did not speak to anyone but sat almost motionless on the veranda for some hours. Her hat remained firmly on her head. It transpired that she had lived on her own for many years and was not used to company.
I can not remember her name but I can recall some years later she was buried in the farm’s graveyard. My great grandparents and grandparents on my mother’s side were all buried on the side of low hill overlooking a most beautiful valley. I wonder what happed to the trees on the East side – because my grandfather always kept the East of the enclosure clear of bushes and trees so that the early morning sun would brush the graves.
So if Christmas Eve is a time for looking back it must also be a need for looking forward.
This then is an earnest plea to any parents or relations of nine, ten or eleven year old children. If you have included verbal or non verbal reasoning books and papers in the presents – please take them out of the pile. If you have bought a special mathematics book for your most loved child – please put it to one side.
I think there should be at least one day a year that put aside from the rigors of Eleven Plus preparation. If this plea does not reach the hearts of any parents then children should be made aware that there is very special number for children to ring.
Every child knows this number 0800 1111.