Some Leaving Cert Perspective

Although it is many moons ago, Mammy remembers getting her Leaving Cert Results.

Mammy was certain that the contents of the little brown envelope were going to change her life. Had Mammy’s life REALLY depended on the contents of that little brown envelope, quite frankly, I’d be living an utterly dreadful, mediocre and half-arsed attempt at one. 😂

Because the results printed on my little scrap of yellow paper were quite awful, if I’m very honest. The only mark I remember (or tell anyone about!) was my A1 in Honours English. Go figure.

As for the rest of them? I’d say the examiners only passed me so that they wouldn’t have to read my verbal diahorrea again the following year. 😂I’m not exaggerating either.

But the other grades didn’t matter. The A in English was all that mattered to me, both then AND today. Yes, I got into college, but not until I had spent a week back in the brown uniform 😣😣 convincing myself that I needed to repeat. It wasn’t until the second round offers and a trip to meet (attack😛) the Dean of the English Department in Coleraine, that I finally got my place on the degree course. (I might have only been 17, but I was a stroppy one!😂)

English was all I loved. It was all that I wanted to study and, as the little brown envelope told me, it was apparently all that I was good at… All that I was good at THEN.

At 17. Turns out, I’m good at a whole load of things. I just didn’t get to take exams in singing, dancing, shopping or eating.

The Big LC recognised my ability to understand Shakespeare and write stories off the top of my head, but it didn’t (and couldn’t) know how strong I was at things like organisation, being a friend, laughing or pulling pints. So I was crap at French. Biology for me ended after the section on photosynthesis. But although my maths grade was dismal, I challenge you to find ANYONE who can work out a % as quickly as me when I see the word “SALE”. 😂😂

So there. Now, almost 20 years on, I’m a teacher and of COURSE I value the Leaving Cert. I love teaching the course and I try my best to encourage my Babbies to give it their best shot. But I also know that they are teenagers. That they have a LOT going on. That some of them have things going on in their lives that are a WHOLE lot more important that exams. 😢 That whole some of them will give it their ALL for 2 years, on the day of the exam, it might just not happen. And sometimes, that at 18, they’re just not quite ready for the ridiculous pressure of the state exam.

For a whole load of reasons, Wednesday is a huge day for our young adults. But that little brown envelope is only that. An envelope. Despite what it is inflated to be, it is NOT the most important piece of paper in the world. Yes, the letters and numbers inside it will have an immediate effect. Yes, some doors will open and yes, some doors will close, but what is written on the page does not define them.

The Leaving Cert does NOT know our children. It doesn’t see the kindness. It doesn’t measure their ability to change things. It can’t recognise their skills as motivators, or thinkers, or makers, or doers. It does not define them, nor should it. And as parents, yes, some of us might be disappointed tomorrow. But mostly we should be proud, because regardless of what is on that page, they are OUR children and they have done their best and we must remind them that they CAN do whatever they want. Because WE know what they can be.

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There are ALWAYS options and sometimes, the path that they are so determined to be the ONLY one for them right now, was never the right one for them…it usually takes a few years for them to realise that however. But they will. 💕

So tonight, tell them how brilliant they are. And leave them under NO illusion that no matter what words and letters are on that piece of paper, that you are and will always be proud of them and that you will help them to get to where they want to go, may it be straight through the college door or in a longer, roundabout way. But all roads lead ahead. And before they know it, they won’t even remember what was printed on the page!

It might be almost 20 years since I opened my little brown envelope and had my heart broken in a million pieces, but trust me, everything happens for a reason. 😇 Tonight, I send love to all of the young people (especially my own Babbies😘😘) and to all you exam parents whose minions face the brown envelope this Wednesday.

And remember, that little brown envelope does NOT hold the key to their future. They hold that key already.

It’s right inside them.

And no piece of paper can change that.

Mammy  XXX

 

 

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I am Searching for the Missing Building Mum

Waking up in Limavady this morning, Daddy announces “Today family, we shall to the Giant’s Causeway go!  And on the way, Daddy shall impart impressive knowledge of myth and legend that will excite you and awe you and suitably remind Mammy of the fountain of knowledge that I am.”

And of course Mammy was impressed, but Mammy also wondered how the hell Daddy can remember stories and mythologies about Giants who pretend to be Babies from 35 years ago, and yet he can’t remember that the bin goes out on a Thursday night…like EVERY Thursday night.  But Mammy does not say such.  No Mammy has had an idea.

“I shall drive Husband of Mine. I know the area better than you do.”

“OK Wife.” agrees Daddy, “Then I shall be the imparter of knowledge and wonder upon our children while you drive.”

Mammy is delighted.  Because Mammy shall now be able to take a small detour.  Mammy shall swing by her old University where she shall point out her old stomping ground to her children and Husband, who shall be suitably impressed.  The girls shall Ooooh and Aaaaaah at Mammy’s trip down memory lane and Daddy shall imagine how hot Mammy must have been as a hip and cool student (Big HAHAHA here!) and Mammy shall be dramatically nostalgic and quietly reminiscent, as she tells her minions about how wonderful life was at UUC.  She shall smile to herself as she recalls the memories that shall never be told… well not until the girls are approximately 28 years old and Mammy has had too much gin.

And so off we went.

“I’m just going to swing into my old college for a quick look” quips Mammy as she turns left instead of right.

And yet now, Mammy wonders why she did.  Because Mammy got an awful shock.

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Mammy was not prepared for the fact that things have changed so dramatically.  Sure it has to be only 5 or 6 years since I was here? And yet in that short time, some Tossbot has taken it upon themselves to CHANGE the whole campus.  And I’m not just talking new signs and buildings.  I’m talking MOVING entire buildings.

Firstly.  The gate was blocked with those ticket bollards.  Apparently students can now afford carparking?  WTF?

Secondly.  Yes indeed there were LOADS of new buildings and fancy constructions.  There are even windmills on the campus.  This, I could deal with.

We drove past the old halls, which seemed to have shrunk slightly.  “Oh look, there are the front steps and there is the computer lab. It had internet you know? 24hour…” Daddy is looking at me as if I’m a lunatic.  The girls are less than impressed.

“There’s the diamond and there’s the theatre Oh and that was where I used to get the bus  home and OOOOH LOOOKIT, there’s the big walkway.  This takes us to Mammy’s favourite part of the campus. It was where the Student Union was.”  (Where Mammy was a student rep, where she was opinionated and indignant in meetings and handed our flyers on Student rights and STDs along with free condoms and where we thought we were changing the world as we drank our cheap pints and loved life…)

“Yes, it leads to the South Building, where… where… ”

“Where what?”

“Where the fuck IS IT?”

“What are you talking about woman?”

“The South Building.  It’s GONE?!”

“Maybe we’re in the wrong place?” Daddy is now certain that Mammy perhaps shouldn’t be in charge of a moving vehicle, which she has stopped at the end of the walkway, which goes to NOWHERE!

“What the FUCK? I went here for FIVE years.  I walked down there EVERY day.  It had the library and the bar and lecture halls and the Union offices.  WHERE THE HELL IS IT?”

“What did you lose Mammy?” asks Mini-Me.

“Mammy lost a building Darling.” answers Turbotwat.

“I did not… I can’t… WHERE THE HELL?”

“I’m sure they didn’t demolish a full part of the uni Darling. Look there are trees and everything.”

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Indeed there are trees…

I want to kill him, but I can NOT argue with the trees.  Not just little baby trees.  No.  Full sized feckers that I could climb if I weren’t in such shock.

“It was here.I’m telling you!”

“Of course it was pet. Do you want me to drive?” He’s enjoying this way too much.

“No.  I don’t.”  Because I know where I’m going.  I’m going to drive around this campus until I find a site map to prove that I am NOT mad.

And I do.

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See this big blank Space?  My LIFE happened here!

And just as I thought, the building is now a field.

I take a snap and send it to two of my old college buddies with “WTF is South Building?”

Within Minutes, I have messages back from them both, providing me with suitably shocked and aghast responses to share with Turbotwat to prove that I am (as usual) right.

In fact one of them goes so far as to send me an ariel shot of the college from when we were there, just to shut him up!

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When Google proves you’re not losing your mind. Cheers Neil!

“When were you last here?” asks The Him, who is only teasing me in fairness. (but who for a split second had me doubting my own mind!)

“Not long enough ago for thon tree to have grown…”

“What year did you leave?”

“Erm… 2003”

“Darling 2003 was 15 years ago…”

What.

The.

Actual?

I didn’t speak.  I drove straight to Portstewart to find my old flat.  And there it was. The pub next door is now a Christian Church and there is a Shopping Centre at the gate, but all I wanted to know was if the door of Number 6 was still yellow.

For some reason, this was important.

And thankfully, Yellow it remains.

A bit like myself who thinks that things stay the same as you remember them.

It’ll probably be another 15 years before I return. And then I shall find that tree and I shall climb the fecker, if not to remind myself that I still can, to embarrass the hell out of whichever daughter I am dropping off!

And so off to the Causeway we went, where Mammy pondered life and how similar she is to Fionn MacCumhall… because we both act like giant Babies sometimes and we’re both as old as the rocks.

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