Friday, July 03, 2009
a learning curve
relax dear readers! my boy has not ended up in jail! this picture was taken in the equine unit at college where he went for a taster day. or in fact two taster days and an interview. to explain how this came about i will need to backtrack, so you may want to get a pen and paper and take notes.
regular readers will remember that in january of this year my boy's fear had reached such proportions that he was not going out of the house. since going to school not only required going out of the house but also a car journey of well over an hour each way, his education ground to a halt. in the intervening months a number of potential options were discussed for keeping my boy off his computer and getting him educated. each came to nothing. the most recent was a local school for artistic young people that has been set up by a charity. this place would have been ideal. but there was the small question of persuading the local irritation authority to pay for it. and what do you know? the ever helpful lady at the local irritation authority said they would not because the new school did not have some sort of registration number from the government. this is because the number takes a couple of weeks to come through, so by the time the money was being paid the school would be properly numbered.
by this stage herself was getting a little frustrated. my boy had been out of school for 6 months and the only input from the local irritation authority had been to threaten to take the peeps to court. then a friend who lives nearby and who has an artistic daughter suggested a college up the road where they teach stuff about the countryside. this had not occurred to the peeps because my boy is not yet 16, but the college takes younger folks than this on a special course.
this week was the taster days and the interview. my boy has known about these for some time and was, on the face of it, looking forward to them. that is until the time came on saturday to buy the boots that he needed to wear to stop his feet getting busted by heavy things.
"i can't do this!" he wailed.
"you can do this." said herself firmly. there followed a stand-off for about 3 hours while my boy threw a major wobbly and the peeps continued with their efforts to get him out of the house. by 12 o'clock he had weakened and we went for a walk to the local park. to do this he had to get dressed, which was part of the peeps' fiendish plan. when they got back they persuaded him into the car and off they went, returning shortly afterwards with some very sturdy boots.
the first taster day was on monday and was blacksmithing. herself had prepared my boy down to the last minute as to what they were going to do in the morning. things went to plan until they were in the car.
"i don't think i can do this!" wailed my boy, looking pale.
"remember the boots?" said herself, "this will be the same."
all the way there my boy fussed about how impossible it was. at one point he curled up in a ball and started shaking. herself by all accounts found this a bit hard to ignore, but it is so important that my boy gets out into the world that she gritted her teeth and drove on. soon they were there.
the first bit involved a talk in a room where there were a large number of chairs laid out. my boy went even paler. herself walked purposefully towards the back and sat down. my boy reluctantly sat beside her, muttering out of the corner of his mouth like a gangster. as the room filled up my boy became more vocal.
"get me out of here!" he growled.
"no." said herself. there followed a whispered exchange worthy of a courtroom. eventually the man in charge appeared and explained what was going to happen. then various people came to the front of the room to collect their victims.
"no way can i do this!" growled my boy. herself ignored him. "you sure know how to make me suffer!" he continued, "i thought you loved me."
"i do," said herself, that's why i don't want you to spend your whole life in a darkened room playing computer games." with which she marched off after the man who had come to collect the blacksmithing people.
when they got to the forge my boy tried to take herself to one side to continue with his protestations. herself is a wily old bird and made for the middle of the workshop where the man in charge was demonstrating how to measure a length of metal. the man was called dave, which in my book gives him a head start. one of the peeps' friends has known a couple of not very nice daves but in our house the name has only positive connotations. it became clear that they were going to make a poker. once this was explained my boy should have thrown in the towel and got on with it. the peeps need a decent poker. they have a very large poker that would be more suitable for a baronial hall but which is unusable in the little fireplace in our house, so they shuffle the fire around with salad tongs.
"it's great you are going to make me a poker!" she said. my boy must have seen the writing on the wall. once herself has an idea she is not easily shifted from it. the day ran on. my boy fussed. herself was tough. eventually the poker was finished and they left, very hot but triumphant.
the next visit to college was on wednesday. this was for the interview for the course that my boy is hoping to go on. herself had prepared him in minute detail about what was going to happen. my boy had written a piece about why he wanted to go to this college and what he hoped to get out of it. more accurately my boy had dictated and herself had typed it. although my boy can type, he cannot type and think at the same time. there was a certain amount of kerfuffle about trousers the previous evening, which i will gloss over in the interests of brevity.
somehow monday's experience had not had any impact on my boy's psyche. 10am found him curled up in a ball in bed. herself did the cheery thing for about an hour, sounding less cheery as it failed to work. eventually my boy was persuaded out of bed.
"don't come near me!" he wailed, "i can't do this!" herself heaved a large sigh and carefully explained that not only could he do this, but that he was definitely going to do this.
"you can't make me! go away!" my boy presented an interesting sight as he said this. in one arm he was clutching bertha the bear, who has been with him all his life. in the other arm he was waving a full size replica machine gun.
"i will make you," said herself firmly, "this is too important for you to dip out of it. you need to get dressed." i have to say it was not clear to me how she was proposing to make a 5' 10" teenager do anything. the days of picking my boy up under one arm and carrying him out to the car are long gone.
herself got on the phone to himself. himself, true to form, did not answer his phone. then herself had an inspired idea. mrs snake charmer was off work for the week. when herself rang her she was cleaning her oven. she promised to be here in 10 minutes. herself told my boy that if he did not get dressed she and mrs snake charmer would dress him. mrs snake charmer used to play rugby and is very strong. my boy decided it might be prudent to get dressed himself, but continued to mutter throughout. herself went into the garden to cool down and spied mrs next door over the fence. as soon as mrs next door heard what was going on she offered to come round too.
mrs snake charmer arrived and the kettle was put on. my boy made an appearance, dressed at last, but still refusing to leave the house. at this point mrs next door arrived. mrs next door is a person of small stature, but what she lacks in height she makes up for in charm and strength of character. my boy opened the door.
"thank goodness you're here! she has got [mrs snake charmer] round to bully me!" (dear readers, i am under strict instructions not to use anyone's real name, in order to prevent embarrassment to the peeps' friends). mrs next door did not like to say that she had come round for a similar purpose.
by now my boy was starting to realise that his recalcitrance was unlikely to succeed. faced with three determined menopausal ladies he had to admit defeat. he decided to try another tack and lit an incense cone. the ladies exchanged glances. young dave and i exchanged glances. but all was well. he was simply making some magic smoke. he came in with a test tube full of smoke. when he took out the bung the smoke wafted round the room, making a smell reminiscent of an eastern bazaar.
"i'll take some magic smoke to the interview!" he said, "that will relax me." he was dissuaded from this plan and it was explained that this might look rather eccentric and might also set off the sprinklers at the college. i could only agree. while it is always good to make an impression, one has to be careful what sort of impression one makes.
it was soon time to leave. mrs snake charmer agreed to come along to the college in case of last minute wobbles. she was glad she did as she collected a large amount of literature about interesting courses for mr snake charmer and himself to go on. one course was about smoking. her maamship later pointed out it might not be wise to send my boy to a college where they teach you how to smoke, but it appears this is not that sort of smoking.
anyway, i digress. suffice to say that the interview was a success and my boy was offered a place on the course, starting in september. he just had to get through the taster day on thursday. one the way home herself made it clear that if there was a repeat of that morning she would call in her friends again.
"you always get your hoard of menopausal women to bully me," said my boy. herself pointed out that menopausal women strike terror into the heart of most men and that she quite liked the idea of being part of a hoard. readers, beware the Hoard of Menopausal Women...