Thursday, March 18, 2010

The colour of money

Two significant things happened last week.

Son took his clarinet exam on Wednesday morning. Said, without any fear in his eyes or voice, "I mucked up the sight-reading, but I think it is OK."

In the afternoon he was assigned the task of being the "runner".

He was given a list of names, had to check/sign these names/candidates in, take them to the practice room, and then take them to the exam room in a different building.

This was because his own piano teacher often enters candidates at the school (as a location) and these candidates would not know where to go.

It was interesting that the director of music thought it fit for son to do this job, usually reserved for a boy at least three years older. Add to that the fact that this young man is very shy. Meeting and greeting strangers? Signing them in? Taking them round the school?

The director's risk-taking paid off and from all accounts our son did well.

Best of all, his teacher rewarded him with a £5 note. He was ever so pleased with these first earnings of his. Yesterday we used the £5 note to buy us tickets to the school play (next week).

From son's perspective, the best thing however was being able to miss Maths. He's good at Maths but find the lessons really, really boring.

Friday we drove to his prospective boarding school to meet two prospective Housemasters. We learned that the Housemasters are like the Headmasters. Each is in charge of a House with about 60 boys/young men.

The boys eat three meals at the House, do their prep/homework there, have lots of activities, etc, besides going to classes at the main school. They also have an interesting practice of not having lessons between 2 and 4pm. They boys are all cleared out of the Houses and have to go play games or something else.

At 4pm when we were leaving we saw them back in their suits and hurrying back to classes.

My sister-in-law asked me what their school uniform is like. I have not noticed anything about school uniform on the school website. It turns out that the boys do not have a school uniform. They are just required to dress smartly (ie in a suit/blazer).

They are allowed to walk into the town and because they are dressed no differently from other young men and women, no one would know that they are from the school.

This contrasts greatly with the school up the hill from us with their boaters and what-have-you.

It also appears that son took immediately to one Housemaster. Because this one asked him questions directly, he enjoyed giving the answers.

At one point he was even being cheeky.

We know that he has to pass an interview to get into this school. We were dreading this as while we know our son is full of important and trivial knowledge, talking to strangers is not his favourite activity.

Having seen him chat with this Housemaster and the Deputy Registrar who showed us round the grounds, our fears were laid to rest.

It is going to cost us lots financially to send him to this school. But clearly he wishes to go and we think he is going to enjoy it there.

However when one thinks -- as a stay-at-home mother does -- of all the washing, cooking and cleaning that one needs to do around a teenage boy, we are basically paying for these privileges. It would cost me more to employ a cook and/or cleaner to do this for him (although when I do these tasks, I don't get paid).

Most importantly, teenage boys (and girls) are not going to talk to their parents, are they? So in that sense we were choosing a surrogate parent for him. That way we know he has a role model we can trust.

(One of the Housemasters expressed that he had never looked at it that way.)

So now that we, or actually son, had chosen, it is up to the School/House to decide whether they want him there. We won't know till next year.

Better get on with the application now.

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