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Friday, April 03, 2009

The Eleven Plus and Working Mothers

I was chatting to a mother today about her son’s results. She explained her frustration about being able to work with her son because she worked full time and could not arrive home until late. Of course we talked about the possible need for a timetable so that her son knew what was expected of him every day. The mum agreed that at some time in the evening she could sit with her son and work through some short but intensive exercises.

Driving home, at the speed limit, I was overtaken by two young men in a back BMW coupe. I wondered why they were in a hurry. Were they going home to cook the family meal? What domestic tasks would they perform?

The woman of the family is real leader – and not just as the sun goes down. She organizes the family in terms of leisure and co-operation.

The mother becomes the family chauffeur. She drives the children to school and various activities after school. She collects the children from school, drives them to swimming and tennis, takes the second child to a music lesson, collects the first, fits in some shopping and the collects the second. She then supervises any homework as well as offering a quick hot snack.

The mother then is expected to cook the meal, start on eleven plus work, watch part of a familiar soap, supervise the behavior of two children, ease them into water, read to them (sometimes), encourage bed time, clean the kitchen, iron the clothes and sink to the favorite armchair.

The mother of the eleven plus child is also expected to cope with telephone messages, make inquiries, pay bills and maintain the family accounts. She is the family computer operator, accountant and part time gardener.

There seems to be even less time for a mother who has to work full time to be able to spend quality eleven plus study time with her child.

To the son, who feels like work but has difficulty in settling to work on his own, the mother appears to be enjoying a full time job outside of the home – as well as a full time job within the home. The mother also has to be the unparalleled eleven plus teacher, the motivator and the judge of any argument or heated discussion. In fact there are probably a wide collection of tasks and roles that probably have been missed.

The mother can not show irritability and fatigue or display hostile tendencies. Mother has to be relaxed, pleasant and all knowing. In those stolen eleven plus moments
She has to appear to be patient and under worked. She can not regularly appear to be frustrated and over worked. After all, the hours that a mother puts into running the home are largely unpaid and sometime undervalued.

It must be wondered why this blog explores the role of the mother in the eleven plus journey – well the answer is simple if those two young men had not exceeded the speed limit and rushed off with raised fingers then a different story might have been told.

Of course, if any mother (or father) would care to comment and add to the duties outlined above, please feel free to comment.

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