What’s important

So while Sam is upstairs doing everything in his power to avoid revision, Abigail is in the kitchen, obviously troubled by the upcoming SATs.

“What if I forget everything on the test?”

So I tell her. Absolutely nothing will happen. Keswick School will not rescind their offer of a place because you didn’t put a circle around the fronted adverbial. Your preferred A-Level establishment will not throw your application in the bin because you forgot how to convert a mixed number to an improper fraction. Universities will not rip up your UCAS form because, at the age of 10, you didn’t identify the verb in the subjunctive mood or explain in sufficient detail why Raheem was wrong to say that 0.42 multiplied by 10 was 4.02. (Stupid boy!) And future employers will not refuse to offer you an interview because you didn’t use a wide range of devices to build cohesion in your writing.

It really doesn’t matter. For me, what does matter is the other lessons she’s learnt this year.

1. Not everyone likes her. She’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Which is fine because they’re no longer hers either. (Oh my god, I’ve started a sentence with a relative pronoun – throw me in Grammar jail now! 🙄) What’s more important is that she is some people’s cup of tea and she’s learnt instead to give these friends her time, attention and care. And that’s more important than working out the missing angle on a line.

2. Not to give people 4, 5 or 6 chances. Giving them a second or third chance was two too many. She’s learnt the hard way that she’s not something to be picked up and used when it suits. I’m sure that deep down it does hurt and she still wishes she was good enough for these people, but she’s learnt to say no. And that’s more important than identifying a relative clause.

3. Not to trust all adults. She no longer falls for their shallow greetings or smarmy smiles. She knows they don’t care about her. They’re happy to see her miserable as long as she reaches that magic 100 in her SATs so their data table looks good or they reach some target in time for their next appraisal meeting. She’s learnt that not all adults have her best interests at heart. And that’s more important than finding 26% of £57.

4. Not everyone cares about her passions. Bouncing into school like Tigger with the biggest smile after winning a singing trophy will have no effect. Because it doesn’t involve a football or running a great distance. But she loves to dance and she loves to sing and when she’s on that stage, she’s at her happiest. And that’s more important than being able to spell words which most adults can’t even pronounce.

5. Not to take any shit from Joel. She will stand up to that boy all day long. I hear them throwing verbal grenades at each other and as much as it’s grating to hear, I’m glad that she’s not afraid. Joel has had a shock that this little squeaky thing doesn’t put up with his rubbish anymore! And that’s more important than finding the area of a compound shape.

So that is what she has learnt this year. Harsh, but hopefully it has made her better prepared for life in secondary school. She’s missed so much over the last eight months but I find some relief in knowing that she’s moving to a school which will care for her and there she will find friends who care about her. And that’s what’s important.

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