Back to school: Harrow schoolboys in 1951. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Hot House

Heartbreaking? Ha!

Claudia Savage-Gore refuses to be health-shamed into having the children home all day

Slightly worried none of the children have been sufficiently challenged since their return to school. Not ideal bearing in mind Hector’s suspected dyscalculia. Admittedly, this could just be me failing to teach him “number bonds” myself (see also: “numicon”) when he was in nursery. The thing I don’t get is, why are children supposed to actually understand maths now? What was wrong with just reciting your times tables until you knew them?

I made this point to Will who pulled his own dyslexic card again, completely irrelevantly. Also raised Hector’s maths issues with his teacher, who said, “Oh no, I’d say his numeracy’s in line with his overall developmental profile.” Obviously this made me feel way worse. Stupidly mentioned it to my therapist in our last Zoom who observed that I was sounding very “achievement orientated”. WTF? How else am I supposed to orientate my expectations of a £30,000 per year prep?

Anyway, back to the general uselessness of teachers post lockdown. Surely they must realise we were all doing nothing during “home-schooling” months? But instead of picking up the pieces it’s like the entire point of school now is isolating the children in their particular “pods”. Cue sickening WhatsApp parent group chats where everyone says they find it “heartbreaking” to see their child separated from their friends.

The home-schooling months now seem like terrible dream. Some people seem to have been sent insane by it

Frankly, I’m delighted to hear less about Lyra’s friends, whose mothers are mostly models-turned-influencers married to oligarchs. Both preps are also keeping themselves busy sending us emails about how the children must bring their own stationery (“ideally triangular pencils” FFS) so that the schools don’t have to clean anything themselves.

Looking back, the home-schooling months now seem like a surreal and terrible dream. Some people seem to have been sent slightly insane by it. My friend Pandora, who admittedly moved to Oxfordshire a few years ago, which says it all, wrote on Instagram that she’s considering making home-school a permanent thing.

And an extremely irritating woman from work whose children go to Thomas’s STILL hasn’t sent her sons back on the grounds that “it’s just not worth the risk”. I refuse to be health-shamed into having my children around all day. It’s why, when we were choosing a secondary school for Minnie two years ago, I jumped at her own suggestion she go to boarding school.

Incidentally this set-up is now looking distinctly dicey, with so many boarding schools closing post pandemic. Minnie definitely has a touch of the old dyscalculia/dyslexia herself, so if her school shuts there’s a real possibility she’ll end up at one of the nice but dim London girls’ schools like Queen’s or Francis Holland. Will doesn’t have any idea about this hierarchy and assumes “private = decent.”

At least Lilya our cleaner’s back. I could have hugged her when she first returned but she was wearing a mask, suggesting this might be unwelcome. Annoyingly with all my preferred cafés and the gym still shut I have to hang around at home while she cleans, when I’d usually be at work.

This is somehow deeply stressful. Why doesn’t this problem of being cleaned around get more prominence? How do people with live-in housekeepers handle it? Perhaps they’re fully immune to their privilege, whereas I just absorb so much emotional energy from others.

I mentioned this to Lyra and she asked if I’m such an empath why I never come upstairs when she and Hector scream for me from their bedrooms. If she were more of an empath she’d understand. She’ll make a great barrister though.

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