Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Advent 18

It is the time of year when my mind, or what remains of it, turns to Marks & Spencer biscuit selection packs. Let us speak briefly of them.

(i) Have you seen the Scottie dog shortbread tin (I can't find online, but they had it in St Pancras)? Because, yes, please.

(ii) The "MILK MILK MILK" selection pack I bought in a froth of decadence is actually totally over the top. In my childhood memories, the M&S selection pack of biscuits was a rare and unspeakably exciting thing. All year round our cupboard held no more than a packet of McVities Dark Chocolate Digestives (a wholly superior biscuit, granted, but not a frivolous one), but occasionally, on very special occasions, my mother would buy an M&S selection pack, in its cheery red wrapper. Of course this was the normal selection box - a couple of gypsy creams, some boring oaty things, a bourbon, blah blah blah some other biscuits, PLUS the glittering prize that was the gold wrapped Orange Sundae. You got two per packet and I lived for the Orange Sundae, I tell you. As an over-indulged functionally only child for the relevant period, I got both Orange Sundaes and it was like being a magical princess for a day.

You still get your two Orange Sundaes in the MILK MILK MILK packet, but your palette is jaded and furry with heavily coated chocolate treats. You no longer treat it as the precious gem it is. On top of that, no one else in this house even likes any of the biscuits in the MILK MILK MILK so I am having to eat all of them, whereas I know they would be mad for the stodgy bourbons and custard creams. There is a lesson here for me: more is not necessarily better (except with horses and choux pastry and cashmere and MONEY).

Enough biscuits (yes, that is the problem, more than enough biscuits).

Advent trinket of the day:

I suppose this was inevitable. First the owl, then the moustache.


Who are A and S and do they know about the rising damp next door? I bet that would cast a pall over their graffiti ardor.

In other news, the grim arrival of the school reports, just before Christmas, in a joyless fashion. I am going to have to summon the Père Fouettard back to take one child in a sack to Spain (suffice to say, that spontaneous breakfast is no longer a mystery). I feel quite resentful at the ridiculous schedule of primary school reports (5 a year! Percentage marks in all subjects and comparison against the class average!), angry at myself for caring, frustrated at child, etc etc, a maelstrom of positive seasonal emotions. Christ, when do we all start drinking sherry in our pyjamas in front of the telly in the morning? (never, at this rate, I will spontaneously combust on Christmas Eve in a cloud of burning martyr). Whenever I start thinking I'm a cool, laidback parent, my child gets a dodgy school report, and I reveal myself to be the uptight, authority-enthralled, psycho-rigid swot I truly am. Sigh.

That is all I have. I think I might have peaked on festive feelings and it might be downhill from here. My friend Nathalie has got me a nail brush though, maybe that will perk me up.

How is your Wednesday? What is your view on biscuit selections?


Anonymous said...

Can I say you should take heart. Your school reports are 'French', therefore designed to cast despond and make all involved feel inadequate. Such is the way of the world..

The same is true of the European schools.. education must be endured. They will get there...

Dale said...

Aaaaah. Could not agree more --education is to be endured. Please do not worry. Children exist (at least in part to make us question reality. As we should.

Susanjane said...

We know from your posts that F and L are very creative, bright children with a healthy curiosity and fearless, besides. School reports are only a very small part of who they are. I would say the school is failing to be sufficiently interesting. Eventually they will realize that school is something you do to be allowed into the rest of your life, and they will do just fine.
Breathe deeply and let Christmas happen, and soon it will all be over.
What did weepette do with the orange?

ganching said...

When I got home from my work Christmas "lunch" yesterday at 8 30 I consoled myself with a cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit from the Scottie dog tin I bought at St Pancras M&S at on Sunday. This was done in front of the Nigel Slater programme on BBC4 on biscuits. Catch it on iPlayer when you are home for Christmas. The tin is seriously cute.

cruella said...

Very cheered to read about dodgy school report as I have one kid (ok, teenager) in American school where she cares more about sexist behaviour and homofobic slants among her peers than Geometry and Science (good for her, good on us but oh, anxious swot I am too) and the other falling periously behind in his online studies (ok, due to perfectly understandable reasons, but anxious swot etc).

No chocolate biscuits here but ENORMOUS jar of Nutella, diminishing fast, spread on water bickies of some palm oil cheap supermarket Chinese variety (1 kg 1 euro).

Anyone for a breakfast sherry?

frau antje said...

Kid who had nary a problem in the past, including calculus, was just obliterated by a (typically knee-jerk) physics requirement. She´s crushed. I feel like I´ve failed her somehow, and am now even happier that her semester also included a class with this guy.

Sarah Maddox said...

Am intrigued about the nail brush comment. How exciting are nail brushes?

Anonymous said...

I'm the one that wrote a long diatribe about helping my daughter prepare for a simply horrendous biology exam this week. The whole household literally exhaled in relief when it was over. If we ever come across a knee joint, we'll know damn well where the various bits and pieces are. However, I don't see my daughter enjoying any of the work she has to do in biology. I'm pretty sure that's not the way things should be. New subjects should be brought alive in class, not crammed into their brains fact after fact. After a really demoralising result in a maths exam and her entirely losing motivation in that subject after initially enjoying it alot, I really wanted to avoid another disaster of the same kind with biology. The effect on kids' morale is just awful when exam grades are low. Even if parents are laidback about it, they know they're below the average. It's such a competitive environment, lots of kids her age are being tutored several evenings a week to keep up. There is the same bullsh*t here about percentage results and class averages, plus a general "effort/ general performance" grade as well. Well, if a child that engages well with school materials, is supported at home, understands the stuff, never fails to turn in homework and is not disruptive in class can barely scrape a C grade equivalent for effort/general performance, then what hope is there for children that struggle with materials/ have no support at home/ forget their homework several times a term/ are giddy in class? It really annoys me to see how the whole system seems to be designed to put kids down, rather than build them up and reward them for their progress. The whole point of being a child is to have a childhood and be free to explore the world and find out what makes them tick, not to be tutored into oblivion just to pass arbitrary exams.

So: I completely sympathise about the maelstrom of feelings about school reports. First off, a report the week before Christmas is just plain mean. Secondly, there is FAR too much pressure on kids nowadays and far too many boxes to tick at school. As another commenter has said, your kids are obviously very bright and have enquiring minds. That should really be enough at this stage of their education. That breakfast he made for you totally makes up for any mean comments his teachers may have made about him.
Instead of obsessing over my kid's low grade in maths and making her do painfully dull exercises in the holidays, I'm going to make sure she has a proper break from the relentlessness of school and homework, let her stay up late reading whatever she feels like reading in bed and get up at whatever time she wants, and hope for a better report next time.

Anonymous said...

Susanjane, you're the kindest and most reasonable person I've read since a loooong time.

A school/parent pressure tortured ex-child.

Patience_Crabstick said...

My God, if they included comparison with class average on American report cards, there would be mass riotings.

I've seen some crap report cards from my kids, and life goes on and it all seems to work out fine.

Waffle said...

Thank you for all your reassurance. Given there are years of this fun to go, I will learn to relax a little.

Susanjane - I have no idea. I fear the worst.

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