The Reason Why … note to self

OK. Here’s a thing. Grovelling for places at schools I can’t afford isn’t just about the education.And no, it’s not about going to the Right School or knowing the Right People either; that’s just not my style. Indeed my ethos in life is that knowing the Wrong People and flying in the face of convention is a whole lot more fun.It’s about cricket.

When Ben was nine he began to be bullied at his prep school (in Africa). A painful year of investigation and reassurance ensued. In vain, for the bullying persisted and finally we withdrew our son.

The upsides of a really bad situation were several: first of all we got him into a day school close to home (he had been boarding at my brother’s Alma Mater), secondly I learned that flying in the face of convention rather suited us and thirdly, Ben learned a valuable lesson about life: you can change bad situations.

Analyzing why Ben was bullied took time. He is clever (but not too clever), funny (but not cocky), he is neither too fat, nor too thin. He is a perfectly ordinary boy. It transpired he was targeted because he was ‘rubbish at sport’. Later, when his self-esteem improved, he was able to articulate that those on teams were treated with a degree of reverence, by children and staff alike. But those who failed to make teams were dismissed to the outfield. The outfield is a lonely place where you’re too far away for people to notice if you’re happy or sad until it’s too late. With Ben’s help – and blessing – I wrote about our experience

Stand up to them my boy, don’t be a wimp”-Life & Style-Women …Shortly after Ben changed schools, he watched a cricket world cup and it pressed a button. For the first time ever he took up a bat and began to teach himself by watching what the pros did. He tossed a ball onto the roof of the house for batting practice and bowled against the garden wall. His dog fielded for him. He did not allow the fact there was no cricket played in his international school to deter him. He spent hours in the garden, celebrating his ‘centuries’, putting a hand up when he got a ‘wicket’. I would watch him in the evening, he was oblivious to my observation, only knowing he was playing at the Oval for England, or on the ground at Newlands for South Africa (handy this identity crisis, sometimes, it means ones allegiances can vacillate).

Five years later and Ben has captained school teams that he has rustled up simply because he has been so desperate for a game, he has played charity matches within our local community, enjoyed our own brand of ‘village’ cricket and even been accepted to play by the more serious and largely Indian regional cricket clubs. Last year he attended a ten day program for young cricketers in India, sponsored by his late and much loved Great Uncle.

Ben wants to play cricket. For a club, a county, for England. Or South Africa. Or even Ireland. He can’t get what he needs to do that from where we live. And I feel I owe it to him, given the battering he sustained at prep school, given the fact he has taught himself everything he knows, to try to grant a wish.

That’s why I’m grovelling. Because when we walk around smart schools boasting some of the best cricket grounds in England, my son says, ‘I just want to get out there and bowl, Mum’.

I have to know I tried.

Because he has, so hard.

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4 Responses to “The Reason Why … note to self”

  1. The Good Woman Says:

    Now that got me all choked up. Although I’m tempted to make some ridiculous cricket reference (I’m sure he’ll bowl then over/ Knock ’em for a six) I’ll restrain myself.

  2. R. Sherman Says:

    Lovely post. Thanks.

    Cheers.

  3. Gillian Says:

    Fabulous boy you’ve got there.

    Here’s my post about the recent adventures of the Tanzanian cricket team…

    http://schoolstjude.blogspot.com/2007/06/pulling-up-stumps.html

  4. Mapesbury Mum Says:

    Go For It, Ben…

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