Monday, 13 January 2014

4 out of 5 ain't bad - University Applications

I am sure that is a line in a's going to bug me until I remember.

In the land before time when Beautiful B was in her first year at primary school I received her first school report and could not make sense of the grading system.  Granted it would have helped had they provided some instructions but nonetheless I made an appointment to see the headmaster to have the report explained to me.

While the report said that little Beautiful B tried her hardest the headmaster explained that although in her first year of school she was officially 18 months behind where she should have been at.  Having been a pupil at that school many moons before this teacher knew that I have qualifications coming out of my wazoo (though mum maintains I have more grades than you can shake a stick at and no common sense and she would be right) so spent the next 10 minutes trying to counsel me in accepting that Beautiful B would never achieve the same grades I did.

Thanks to me and my bright ideas before she was born Beautiful B did not have the best of starts in her little life (and by little I mean in 18 month old clothes until she was over 4 years old) and her home life was not stable at all.  By the time she was 22 months old we were back living with mum and dad after my marriage broke to her dad broke down in a most awful way.  I believed that she should not be defined by any of that.  

The headteacher went on to explain that his young daughter had been born with Down's Syndrome and that he had to accept that his daughter would never become what he wished for her.  I asked if he was telling me that Beautiful B had a defined learning issue and he said no, to which I replied that no-one should be defined by titles, conditions, or a bad start in life.  Beautiful B was removed from that school the following week and placed in a school who had a development programme set up for her based on her report before they even met her.  That programme was redefined and developed throughout her school life.

I am not saying that Beautiful B didn't struggle, she did and things got much worse in her life as she grew up, good and bad times came in waves and she had to navigate those waters with me and throughout it all I only ever asked for her best, for 100% effort, regardless of what the results were.  Qualifications would have been a blessing but as long as she gave me 100% effort the grades were secondary.  She gave me effort, by the bucket load.  I spent hours reading to her as my love of books as a young child contributed to my reading skills, I sat with her while she struggled with maths because I am not great at it yet I am an accountant, we pored over biology books and watched heart operations etc on the television.  I tried to instill a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning.

Beautiful B's grades improved as she grew older but they weren't great and yes, for them to be better would have been beneficial but regardless of the grades she grew up to put maximum effort into what she did, to care about how she presented herself, to have a great work ethic and so on.  During her early teenage years she had a particulary hairy time and as happens with some children her effort waned at school; that I wasn't happy with and we had some rows that lifted the roof off the house as a result.

Then Beautiful B's dad had babies, babies born with a genetic condition that required so much support and that would continue to impact them throughout their lives.  She had already been volunteering at an autistic charity and as a result of all of this she decided she wanted to be a nurse; to help those like her sisters and those she helped at the charity and to give back to the hospital that fought to save the lives of her sisters.  That decision turned Beautiful B's life around because coupled with the need for effort and the work ethic I had instilled in her since young she was given focus; a focus that so many children her age did not have, a career path that she was so very sure about.

Beautiful B took her last school report and compared her current grades with those she needed to be a nurse, she sat with the careers officer to discuss the best college courses to attend and then visited each of her teachers.  She discussed the gap between current and required grades with every teacher and asked how she could improve those grades by the time she sat her exams.  Peeps, my Beautiful B spent 3-4 nights a week at school with her teachers taking extra lessons, she brought home extra homework and she studied so very hard.  In 6 months she was exceeding the grades required in almost every subject.  She had a determination that exceeded even mine at her age.

On the last parent's evening before she sat her exams every single teacher sang her praises.  Every one of them said they were motivated by her determination to succeed and to break down the barriers to her success and everyone of them said they were happy to provide the additional help because she was so focused.  At least one of them made me cry because of the wonderful things they said about her (at which point Beautiful B said I embarrassed her).  The best part was when one teacher looked at me and said "...but you know this already don't you Mrs Beautiful B's mum."  I nodded, they weren't telling me anything I didn't already know but the recognition for Beautiful B meant the world to me.

Beautiful B went onto college, choosing to take a course that gave her 3 days on-the-job learning as well as college based study.  When the government changed goalposts for her chosen career adding years to qualification she shouted and cried at the unfairness of it all but carried on regardless.  When applying for her first official (non-college related) job at the hospital 2 wards fought over having her on their staff.

Never in my wildest dreams, since that first meeting with the headteacher did I ever think my Beautiful B had a chance of going to university.  Even when she gained the career focus I watched her struggle to pull up those grades and still thought she may not make it because to this date she struggles with maths.  My daughter's role on this earth is to care for people, to nurse them back to health or during their final hours and her work ethic and empathy make her a wonderful health care assistant.  The struggles she has endured throughout her childhood and recently through the birth of her sisters and the death of one of her sisters and dad has provided her with the much needed empathy that a lot of our nurses do not have because it cannot be taught.  Still she needed the maths to become a qualified nurse.

Peeps, she has been studying an additional 2 years due to the government changing rules for nurse qualifications but during that time she has gained the required maths qualification.  Beautiful B applied for 5 universities and there cannot be a prouder mum.

She heard from the last of those 5 universities yesterday.  She has been accepted for interview at 4.  She doesn't have the highest level of credits for a university place but she does have the technical experience, the life experience and the tenacity and determination to suceed at her goal.  Now she just has to convince them of it.

The only reason I will be disappointed if she isn't accepted into university is that she will be distraught because it is her life goal.  It is what she was born to be and what she so desperately wants.  Regardless, to me she will always be the little girl who someone said would never be capable of doing what I wanted for her, the child that they had already given up on and the child that I knew would prove them wrong.  She is the child who will, once again, shout and scream at the world but then pick herself up and try again until she succeeds.

I know I am her mum and am therefore conditioned to say this but something tells me that she will be accepted, that they will see what so many see in her; her determination to succeed, the ability to gain the qualifications she needed during the time she lost her dad and sister within 4 days of each other using that experience to drive her even more; the empathy needed for such a fundamental role in our societies and the support system needed to study harder than many in her class will need to in order to achieve the same grades.  

Regardless of the outcome, Beautiful B does and always will make me the proudest mum in the world.  



1 comment:

  1. It's "2 out of 3 ain't bad" and it's a meatloaf song! X