Me: Hey kids guess what Mummy did today?
Me: I went on Radio 2!
*both kids break into song*
6yo & 4yo: How do you like your eggs in the morning, I like mine with a kick…
Me: Yeah not that show, another show, with just talking.
*both children walk away disinterested*
Yesterday I was on The Jeremy Vine show talking about pushy parents. Obvs. my mum came with me to the tiny box studio in Leeds while my Dad misunderstood and thought I was going on the Jeremy Kyle show. He’s still awaiting the results of the DNA test.
It was in response to a comment the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield made stating that northern parents to be more pushy like their southern compatriots. Naturally I felt this was a complete load of horseshit.
For starter’s what the fuck is a ‘Northern’ parent? I think some of the media have images of us all wrapped in bear skins living in a cave shouting ‘You know nothing Jon Snoooow’ while the kids play outside in their pants hitting each other over the head with sticks.* Have they never been to Harrogate?
A lot of children end up settling for what’s available and part of what we’re doing is about saying to children and parents ‘you should be demanding more’. – Anne Longfield, The Yorkshire Post
Wherever we live most parents want the same things for our children: to grow up happy, have an education that gives them options and to at least pretend they recognise vegetables when they are served up round a friend’s house on a playdate.
The other mum interviewed (where are all the pushy dads?) claimed in a newspaper article to have spent weekends carrying out interview training with her teenage children so they could get in to the right university. Now on the one hand that sounds like the shittest family weekend ever (and I’ve been to soft play hung over) but on the other hand it is actively contributing to your children leaving home so it might actually be a stroke of genius.
The main problem I have with the notion that as parents we need to be more pushy is that we’re basically telling our children that to succeed they need to elbow everyone else out of the way. I’d rather we concentrated on ways of inspiring children at secondary schools and showing them that there are things worth studying for, that there are interesting careers out there to pursue – and not all of them require a university education. Having lived in London for over a decade I have seen first hand that children living in the south are more likely to be exposed to people with a wider range of options in life.
My children are hardly disadvantaged we now live in a Yorkshire spa town with fancy tea rooms, nestled on the edge of the dales, tourists travel for miles to visit our local attraction (two big rocks) and our town even has it’s own song about eating a decomposing corpse.
And let’s face it two middle class mums battling it out on the BBC – while a giant string bean barks provocative nonsense at them about schools closing down RIGHT NOW if parents don’t rock up immediately with pitchforks and demand an after school chess club – is not going to affect the outcome of an education system failing disadvantaged children.
The point I wanted to make but didn’t cos I was panicking I might shout ‘bum’ on live radio, is that I don’t want to spend my life stood behind my children pushing them in front of other kids, I want them, and children in schools across the country, to have the same opportunities whatever their home lives are like.
I think the conclusion I would have drawn from a report showing that kids in the North are falling behind would be that there should be more investment in schools in the North, or, hey here’s a thought! How about the government stops pissing about claiming to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and just puts in a decent fucking train across the Pennines – we’ll sort out the rest, we’re quite a resourceful bunch up here.
So yes Anne, I’m a ‘Northern’ parent and I’m demanding more. From you. Now what are you actually going to do about it?
*to be fair the pants/ sticks thing does actually happen quite a lot in our house but don’t tell anyone that.