Tests and Two Bag Gangsters

Bleurgh, what a miserable day. It’s grey and rainy outside, and I seem to have come down with something. Felt slightly off both Saturday and again yesterday, and this morning whatever-this-is seems to have properly hit me. I’d say flu, but there’s no cold to speak of beyond aching sinuses and a headache that I can only describe as ‘stinging’. Kind of behind my eyes. Apart from that I think I’ve had an on-off temperature (currently held at bay with Lemsip) and I’m aching all over. Did all the stuff I needed to do this morning, then headed to bed at lunchtime and slept for a solid couple of hours. Didn’t feel much better waking up, so God bless my beautiful B, who’s working from home today and went to collect Monkey from school for me.

Monkey starts big school next year, so it’s around this time that big decisions have to be made. He’s a very smart little cookie and his headmistress has recommended he takes a shot at the tests for getting into the fancy grammar school down Kingston way. Said and done, and tomorrow is the first batch of tests. Not sure how this sits with me, the equalitarian Swede who believes everyone should be offered the same opportunities – the whole thing reeks of elitism to me, and also I’m not sure I like the idea of so much pressure when he’s barely 11. I think we have made it very clear to him that there is no pressure (a contradiction in terms, I realise) and have made it clear to him that this isn’t a test to ascertain how clever he is but rather to work out if this school is right for him, but not sure how he’ll feel if he doesn’t pass. 3,000 boys sitting the first tests for 90 places on offer.

His headmistress told us that many parents start prepping their kids for these tests from a young age, as in every day from reception year. We’ve resolved to just have him occasionally go through a couple of exercises from the recommended books so he’ll know how these tests are structured, but not drill him or have him practice beyond. At the end of the day, I just want him (as long as Monkey himself wants to of course, and he seems very keen) to do his best and then we’ll see. I mean, what if a child were to pass because they know every possible question and answer combination possible off by heart? If Monkey passes, I want him to pass because he is capable of passing – then we’ll know he can cope with the academic level, which I’d be worrying about if he’d been drilled to shit practicing.

So early tomorrow morning we’ll set off and we’ll just see how we go. If this one’s not right, we have an excellent secondary school right around the corner, and I also believe you can only shape children’s lives so much – if he is an academic star, he’ll do as well there as he might at the fancy place. And the school trips won’t cost an arm and a leg. Oh yes, I have done my research – this grammar school has all the over-the-top stuff going on. Not sure I want to run the risk of him becoming a privileged arsehole. I realise that schools don’t necessarily produce children like that but that this sort of stuff is down to the parents and their home life, but there we are. I just don’t know how I feel about it, that’s all. But let’s see how Monkey does and how Monkey feels, and the final decision will be about that and what’s best for him.

This evening we are going to our second puppy training class with cheeky little Hendrix. I think we have this sitting thing pretty much down, but will need to have another little go before we head off. They go round the participants and I don’t want to be the one with the impossible pup. She’s growing so fast, this little lump. When we first met her, she fit into the palm of B’s hand, she was like a little fat rat. Although still very much a puppy, she’s really beefed up, a solid, square shouldered and ever so enchanting pug princess. The best thing about her is her personality. Sure, I’m no dog whisperer (or I would be better at picking up on her signals when she needs to take a dump – we had two indoor No 2 accidents yesterday), do I have no idea if she is secretly miserable, but that wiggling little pig tail and her bounciness suggest to me that she’s happy and full of beans.

It really is like having a baby, I think I underestimated how much work she’d be. Not that I’m complaining, but it’s not often I leave her to it here at home. Before you know it, even if she’s been out in the past hour, she could be circling around and sniffing, then squat…. She’s a little shit machine, that’s for sure – really, I don’t understand where it comes from unless she has a secret food and treat stash. ‘Two Bag Hendrix’ is her gangster name now, a nod to how she often takes two dumps in one outing. Big ones too.

Right. I’m writing a whole new chapter 2 this afternoon as I realised there’s stuff that needs to go in there right at the beginning, so need to get on with it.

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