It’s A Level Results day for young people – and their anxious parents – across the UK. Today is stressful for many, startling for others, sobering for the rest. There are tonnes of guides for young people to help them through the process. There are less guides for parents. That’s the first conflict.
You are no longer important.
That sounds more demeaning than it is. Let me quantify. Until now, you will have been involved, in some degree, with your child’s education, whether that was attending that first school Nativity when they were five and wearing a Wise Man crown made out of slightly peeling gold paper, or helping them with their homework, or getting on their case about revision… or dropping them off at their prom.
Today is about your child and their achievements, absolutely. But don’t forget to congratulate yourself as well. You probably had a hand in their success, so don’t undersell yourself.
So. In order to get his university place, The Son needed B, C, C grades.
This morning, he opened up his envelope, refused to come show me or his dad immediately (which made me instantly suspicious) and then finally revealed his results.
B, B, C.
Better than he needed, better than I thought he would do given his reaction to the exams and better, I think, than he believed in himself. One simple truism has rung throughout all of this and we reiterated it with him this morning.
You get the results you deserve.
He worked hard to get those grades. He didn’t do brilliantly in his mock exams and, I think, it was the solid boot in the arse he needed to focus his attention. I was conflicted as a parent over the whole process, because on the one hand, I wanted to emphasise to him how important revision was – but also, knowing how much like me he is – I didn’t want to push him so hard that he rebelled and did nothing. Turns out that we got the balance spot on.
Nobody prepares you for parenting. Oh, sure, they tell you about childbirth and what to expect in the early days. They show you diagrams, demonstrating quite clearly which end the food goes in and which end it comes out. (No joke: those early days leave you so sleep deprived that it’s an easy mistake to make). But nobody prepares you for the emotional highs and lows that sneak in over the course of this crazy job.
This morning, I have swung wildly from insanely proud at his accomplishment through to melancholy that he will be ‘flying the nest’. I am delighted that he got the result he needed, but I am also prepared to acknowledge that had his results not earned him his place, I would have been secretly pleased to have him on hand for a little longer.
Whatever the outcome today, I wish you and yours the very best. Myself and mine are embarking on a very scary journey and I can’t wait to see what happens next.