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Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Haunted Eleven Plus Party

You have a faint but worried feeling that your very precious eleven plus child needs a little help. You turn to your family and friends. You approach the school for advice. You think fleetingly of the doctor and then you remember a friend of a friend. You don’t want the world. All you want is a little help for your child.

You look in an old address book for the phone number. You know you did not transfer the number onto your phone. You wonder what to do. You worry a little more. You then remember the wise words of your grandmother. “Initial success might lead to lesser goals, initial failure can stir one to greater effort.”

You take a piece of paper and fold it in half. You feel decisive. You head one column `Talking’ and the other `Counselling’

Giving my child a good talking to

Addressing the problem and marshalling my thoughts
Trying to establish a framework for my child to solve the problem for himself or herself.
Choosing a time and place for the formal `talking to’
Suggesting a little expedition to allow an opportunity for an informal chat
Building rapport – but this is not essential
Empathy is the key

The problem with the counselling approach is that sometimes children prefer the more direct approach. Parents want to be able to maintain a relationship and the eleven plus year can be stressful enough without a full blown family fight.

You make a decision. You are not going to cope with this perceived problem on your own. The whole family must be involved. You invite the immediate family and the extended family along for Sunday lunch. You spend the morning cooking and feeling, at times, rather under pressure. The children keep out of your way. No one knows why all have been summoned.

On the floor, in the centre of the lounge, you have a pile of sheets. You separate the males and the females. You send the males out of the room and ask all the women and girls to drape themselves in sheets. The female contingent then kneel, sit or stand around the room. The males, on their return, have to identify the bodies under the sheets.

The party is noisy and successful. Your tasty food adds to the occasion. You feel tired but happy. Someone asks, rather loudly, why you have invited everyone. You reply that you have quite forgotten. The party goes on.

The eleven plus goes on. You and your child survive another eleven plus crisis.

You crumple your piece of paper.