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Thursday, May 26, 2011

When the Eleven Plus Wheels Fall Off

Houston we have a problem.”

“Mum and dad – we have a problem.”

We know that when the astronauts in Apollo 13 had a catastrophic problem they reported their crisis in a typically laconic manner.

Some years ago I was on a flight to Gibraltar when the pilot explained, in a low key manner, that the wheels would not lower. We had already been asked to fasten our seat belts during the long approach. The runway at Gibraltar is approached from the sea. Cars, cyclists, motor bikes and pedestrians all cross the run way, at times, to suit the arrival and departure of planes. When you are walking or driving over the runway you can see the wheel marks where the planes touch down.

We were asked to stay patient while the plane circled to use up fuel. The pilot also asked us, very nicely, not to rush to one side of the plane to see if the wheels had come down. Seats at the rear of the plane became desirable – as these were the passengers who would gain first sight of the appearance of the wheels. The `Fasten Your Seat Belt’ sign seemed to stay on for ages.

We were aware of clunks and sounds as attempts were made to lower the wheels. The flight attendants went through the `Brace Position’ twice. The second time the attendant made a weak joke – but not everyone laughed. The First Officer told us that we would try one more circuit before making the approach. We went round the Rock in a giant circle. A terse message was issued. “The wheels are down. Stay in the brace position when we land to make sure the wheels remain locked. Thank you for your patience.”

So when your eleven plus child explains that he or she has a problem there may be a need to keep calm while you circle around trying to find a solution. When your child attempts to discuss an eleven plus problem he or she may need help with the language and emotions of the eleven plus. A true crisis may only really be a relative crisis. Imagine if you had been on that plane and seen one of the wheels fall off. Would you have argued with your child at that moment?

When an eleven plus wheel falls off think of yourself as a pilot and try to guide your child towards an amicably realistic solution.

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