One down, four to go …

Our first school visit.

The children – Ben and Amelia – dressed themselves in shiny new interview outfits (out of which I had cut price tags) and slipped feet into squeaky new shoes and off we went in mother’s car which is very old and has bandages on the wheel arches on account of extensive rust. I didn’t put them there; the MOT men did, last week. Mum suggested the car wash might be a good idea ahead of our interview; I replied that the state of car was appropriate given we were grovelling for assisted places. Arriving at the school I was unnerved to discover a shiny new Vogue Range Rover presumably belonging to other prospective parents. The rather shinier family we kept bumping into mid tour, perhaps?

No matter. The staff were warm and friendly. The children behaved beautifully: they did not fight, battled to stifle yawns and remembered not to pick their noses. We even managed the odd question. About pocket money and weekends out. Don’t you hate that, ‘any questions’ thing? I do. Because I rarely have any, not because I haven’t been paying attention but because I am trying to absorb all that was being said to me and can’t do two things at once. The Head – on completion of our tour (after a somewhat intimidating lunch in the school dining room when the eyes of several hundred children fell upon Ben and Amelia as they tried to eat) – asked me how it had been.

Fabulous, I said. Very interesting. If a little overwhelming.

Overwhelming? He replied, ‘It shouldn’t be overwhelming’.

I’m from Africa, I reminded him, Tesco is overwhelming.

He laughed and I felt emboldened; a sense of humour is always encouraging.

By the time we had finished both kids had decided this was the school for them. Whether because they really meant it or because the whole experience was so traumatic they are trying to skip the remaining four, I have no idea. Amelia was footsore after a day in shiny new blue shoes and I was ready for a drink. (I didn’t feel it would be wise to ask for wine when asked what I wanted to drink mid tour: instinct told me they meant tea, coffee or a glass of water, not cold Chablis).

We got home. I slumped in front of computer. With glass of wine.

And Amelia cut the price tag out of the collar of my shirt.

Next one tomorrow. Will wear old shirt.

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9 Responses to “One down, four to go …”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    Glasses of wine make cut tags ok. Good luck to you and the kids!

  2. Minx Says:

    I can’t imagine my children not coming home from school at the end of the day. I guess this must be quite a hard trip for you.

  3. R. Sherman Says:

    Good luck from here, too.

    Cheers.

  4. Michelle Says:

    I love reading your blog, we live on Mafia (total outpost!), really feel for you regarding the kids, i’m home-educating mine for now – but boarding school is looming!

  5. Kathleen Says:

    As usual your wry sense of humor is delightful, but I could actually feel the tension.

  6. problemchildbride Says:

    Best of luck finding a school that suits. It’ll be difficult when they do go, but think about what an idyllic African childhood you’ve given them and the whole new set of experiences that will open up for them now. They sound like pretty lucky kids to me.

  7. Primal Sneeze Says:

    And Amelia cut the price tag out of the collar of my shirt.

    Mid-way through an interview I was asked if I’d feel more comfortable (or something like that) if I were to remove the two pins from my (new) shirt.

  8. The Good Woman Says:

    Oh good luck RM. Hope this works out for the best. And, yes, a sense of humour seems essential.

  9. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Dear All,

    Thank you. I draw much strength from such encouragement. It’s easy to be glib about all of this. The reality is that its hard: I don’t want my kids to be far away from me but I do want them to have the best education I can afford; I can’t afford an independent boarding school education, so I have to grovel. Yesterday was gruesome. Lovely school, beautiful location, delightful young people but a creeping, unsettling sense that spawn of poor white failed farmers from Africa probably weren’t the calibre of children they were looking for! My sense of humour will be restored, however, today is a day off and the only plan is lunch at the pub. And by tomorrow I will have stopped caring. Thank you x

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