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Hot House

Uncommon entrance

Hector’s Common Entrance is looming

This article is taken from the July 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

I ’m in a stand-off with Hector’s school about individual music lessons. Long story short, he now does violin, oboe and guitar (his choice, I wanted piano), at school during the school day. This is so that I don’t have to schlep to some random music teacher’s house after school, three days a week.

Not that this would even be possible since all after school time is dominated by extracurricular sport — currently hockey, swimming, tennis, taekwondo, extra football, cricket, yoga (recommended by How To Raise Happy Boys). That’s before coding, woodwork, Kumon and drama.

The issue is that he has to miss three classes per week for music lessons

Which is before the extra maths and English tutoring he has to do between after-school activities and before homework. Not to put too fine a point on it, after Hecky failed to get into Westminster prep at eight we’re not taking any chances with Common Entrance.

Anyway, back to our argument with school — the issue is that he has to miss three classes per week for music lessons, and the school has timetabled it such that he is missing maths for oboe.

Even when I waved the dyscalculia diagnosis we got in Harley Street (try paying a grand to be told your child is officially shit at something and you’ll see why I drink so much wine) they’re persisting with their line that all is well so long as Hecky is “progressing”. Apparently the actual degree of progress is irrelevant.

The worst thing is that his dyscalculia doesn’t amount to being a creative genius in other areas — to be frank he’s as bad at music as at maths. Will made this point, and actually seemed to find it funny, when I presented him with the oboe vs maths schedule dilemma.

The worst thing is that his dyscalculia doesn’t amount to being a creative genius in other areas

He then suggested that Hector’s tutor could make up the missed maths, completely missing the point that the essence of extra tutoring is the “extra” part. Cue a massive row, where I accused him (legitimately) of having zero understanding of what schools are looking for come Common Entrance.

As in, they want a child who can do maths AND the oboe AND chess AND rugby. Once again, all the emotional labour is on yours truly.

In other school news, Lyra is in her final half term at the oligarch-heavy prep in Hampstead, meaning the End of Term disco is approaching. I’m already having traumatic flashbacks to my own memories of The Arnold House Disco c1992 and wanting to keep her at home, in a box, forever.

It was different with our oldest, Minnie, because she was basically born a teenager. Lyra emphatically does not have Minnie’s selfie skills (can I say that?) so it’s all a bit “lamb to the slaughter”. Voiced this to Will, who either pretended he had no idea what I was talking about, or genuinely didn’t. Lucky for him.

Speaking of which, we’ve just had the session with our couples therapist where we were both supposed to share our “gratitude journals”. I’d written one with pointedly no reference to Will. He’d gone out of his way — unconvincingly — to mention me in every one of his points. Including one completely fictional reference to me making him a cup of tea. WTF? This was either a deeply passive aggressive move to position himself as the good guy, ergo me the evil bitch, in our therapist’s eyes or he’s genuinely deluded and believes that I make the cups of tea that he makes for himself, and then forgets and leaves — revoltingly — all around the house.

Do the oligarchs have this problem? I sincerely doubt it.

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