Two words guaranteed to strike fear into any parent, never mind the students.
It was all going so well, at the beginning. My printer was working overtime as The Teenager printed off reams of study notes then carefully highlighted relevant paragraphs in day-glo orange and yellow.
He drew up a study schedule, factoring in breaks and even ten minute ‘Talk To Mum and Ask Her To Make Toast’ slots. Bless him. Loo breaks were twenty minutes but I didn’t take it personally.
Inwardly, I was congratulating myself. After the drama of his exams last year (shudder), he seemed to have turned his life and attitude around. I would boast, ‘oh, my son, he’s doing awfully well, you know. Studies every night for four hours.’ I felt like a Good Mum.
So I wasn’t worried when he trotted off to his first exam, clutching his bottle of water and new pens. I went to work and waited for the inevitable text – ‘Easy. Banter. Lolz. Are there any bananas in?????’
Instead, I got: ‘I need to speak to you URGENTLY. I’m leaving school.’
‘Ok dear, see you at home. We’ll have a chat when I get home.’
‘No, I’M LEAVING SCHOOL.’
The Teenager was in meltdown. His exam panicked him. He panicked. And decided to leave school, permanently.
When I got back The Teenager was pacing round the cottage, which at 6’3″ took him three steps one way and two the other. He seemed frustrated.
A very long story short, there followed 48 hours of tense negotiations and stand-offs, including two trips to school to talk to his head of year. I was drained, he was exhausted. We broke for Noodle Box deliveries then resumed discussions, round and round and back again.
I downloaded college applications, Burger King applications and apprenticeship applications and looked up the French Foreign Legion (my patience at this point, wearing thin). We reached an agreement. He would drop one subject, get through the rest of the exams and wait for the results in August.
His last exam was on Monday. Today is Thursday and I’m still recovering. We had a chat last night and The Teenager said, ‘I don’t know what I was so worried about, that was easy. And now I get to catch up on my X-Box, and play footie with my friends all summer. Nice.’
I didn’t have the energy to reply. Instead, I cut myself a jumbo slice of lemon drizzle cake that my friend had baked for me to cheer me up, switched on the telly and collapsed onto the sofa. Nice.