End of school is something to prize

Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word


A full week of stepping over a letter lying on the doormat. It’s not WELCOME. It says “To the parent or carer of Youngest Child”, so it’s from the school. Not that she’s ever caused me grief there, but I’m still wary after her brothers’ schooldays. Finally I open it. She’s leaving and I probably owe them money for materials.

But no, we’re invited to the Prize Giving! She’s getting a prize for practical woodwork! Stifling my hysteria, I approach with stealth the teenager in situ.

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“What’s that?” she says looking up from SnappyChattyBratty.

“Read it. It’s good.”

“So… does this mean I’ve passed the exam?”

“No, you don’t get the result till August. This is a prize for your year’s work.”

“So I could still fail…?”

“Well… I suppose, but it sounds unlikely.”


Talk about sucking the joy (OK, my joy) out of a situation. We are going to that prize giving even it requires every subtle trick in my coaxing armoury. Or more pocket money.

“Probably got it for turning up every time,” she says. “And it was a very small class. Embarrassing.”

“Nonsense. Take a compliment. It’s in the subject you want to make your career in. Put it on your CV, it’ll help you get a joinery apprenticeship. I wish I’D got a prize at school. ”

“All right! We’ll go.” And she allows herself a smile. Ha! Chuffed really.

So there we are, a full complement of us, corralled by me in the back row (because Middle’s just back from a month bouldering in France, not via a shower I suspect) and there she is, our girl, crossing the stage, smiling graciously, accepting her prize. We all clap politely while someone whoops (oh, that was me) and she comes down the steps, and keeps going, striding purposefully right to the back of the hall, and us.

“Right family,” she says. “I’ve got my prize. Let’s go. We’re done here.”

And so she is. And that was school.