Janet Christie: The subjective business of making choices

Pic Lisa Ferguson 25/08/2015''New Magazine byline pics - Janet Christie
Pic Lisa Ferguson 25/08/2015''New Magazine byline pics - Janet Christie
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I stagger into the kitchen where Youngest Child is breakfasting in earbuds, watching shouty Americans over-emote on her mobile.

“We need to talk about your subject choices,” I say. She stabs the phone into a pause.

“What-tuh?” she says.

“Your choices. For next year.”

“I’m not having this argument now,” she says, and prods play.

I’m just up. I can barely speak. Argue? I wish.

“No-one’s arguing. I’m just saying…”

“What?!” Another big sigh. She prods the phone back to pause.

“Did you get a booklet from school about it?” I enquire mildly.

“Stop shouting,” she says.

Shout? I don’t really do shouting. Sarcasm’s more my thing.

“I look forward to discussing it tonight,” I say to deaf ears.

That night, phones off, we discuss.

“Thank you mother,” says Youngest sweetly after a while, “but you don’t know about the classes or teachers.”

True, but I have life and work experience and...

“I’ll ask the boys,” she says.

Eldest is summoned.

“What about computing and business?” she says.

“Yes, useful. But so are sciences, and art. And a language and maths and...”

He’s dismissed.

Middle Child is next.

“Subject choices, hmmm.” He strokes his chin.

“You’ve got a black mark under your bottom lip,” I say.

“It’s my goatee,” he says and leans against the wall, gazing into the distance. “When I look back over my life and think about school, I…

“Wish you’d spent more time there?” I say. “Got there on time?”

“No, I have no regrets. My choices made me the person I am now. And you will be who you will be whichever subjects you choose,” he says.

She looks at me. Yep, we’re on our own.

“It’s late. We should have this argument tomorrow,” she says.

I couldn’t agree more.