You’re only as happy as your least happy child.
His resistance to school has come as no surprise, of course. The issues have been building for a while, and no amount of intervention with the school will alter the fact that he simply doesn’t fit into the traditional school environment. The old man is beginning to suspect that I’m having an illicit affair with the school counsellor, I spend THAT much time in the school grounds, and on a personal level I feel as though I’ve spent more time diffusing school issues this year than working. The toll of accumulated education-related crises has become a heavy burden on the whole family.
Ultimately, you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, no matter how hard you push.The education system was not created for free thinkers, the kids who learn in different ways; it simply does not have the support network to accommodate ‘difference.’
The original plan was to whisk him off to a Fame-type academy full of fellow, performing luvvies in year 11, like-minded potential rockstars who would indulge his uncontrollable need to perform in every situation; kids who might appreciate the richness of his Richard Burton baritone voice early in the morning or the fact that he feels the need to sing every emotion in an irritating musical theatre fashion.
His current school, (where apparently he carries the hallowed mantle of most ‘unpopular’ kid) has a distinct beach culture. And albeit successful in supporting ‘able’ students, it also fosters the alpha male, the surfers, the sportsman, the potential Neanderthals; whereas vocalists predisposed to impulsive verbiage who are ill-equipped to read social clues, not so much. Square peg, round hole – it was inevitable that the education pack of cards would come crashing down spectacularly at some point.
And evidently, it just has.
Finding the right school and education for our unconventional, non-conformist boy is tantamount to a needle search in haystacks scenario, it seems.
Plan A has been doctored to sending him to Fame straight away, while plans B-Z remain in the developmental stage.
An internet search of luvvy performing arts schools has highlighted that entry is via audition, interview and academic testing. I wasn’t previously aware that you needed a high IQ to be a performer. So inevitably we have some atypical parental concerns like all pushy over protective parents; like WILL HE GET IN, (and WTF do we do if he doesn’t and we can’t come up with plans B-Z?)
Family preparation for the audition has included exposure to select episodes of Glee, one to one tutorship via my signature tune of Barbara Streisand’s ‘Woman in Love’, Nerd Child’s interpretive deaf Karaoke technique to her favourite Disney songs and the old man’s evolving Gangnam improvisation.
Our son is not a Glee-type performer. His style is more on a par with Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) or Jack White and I’ll be very surprised if his ability to ‘fake it’ can stretch to musical theatre which he defines as ‘loser-ish’. Conformity is not something that sits comfortably with him and he has already informed me that he has absolutely no intention of ‘cutting his hair, wearing the poncy uniform or singing ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ for the sake of his art.
Which poses a bit of a problem for us. Because as appealing as ‘individuality’ and ‘unfettered creativity’ appear to us boring ’round pegs’, the reality is that no matter where he ends up in education terms, (or life in fact), a measure of conformity will be required.
His choice of audition piece highlights this dilemma. He has recoiled at my ‘lame’ suggestions of crowd-pleasing anthems, designed to get the audience toe tapping and invested in him. He wants to impress with his own material, his own style, which is currently dark and raw and more worryingly, light years away from ‘Glee does Abba’.
His latest song was inspired by the Talking Heads song, Psycho Killer, and is called Killer Boy. It is no ‘Dancing Queen’ and my fear is that the examiner will be intrigued enough to ask him about the inspiration behind the song.
In which case we will probably have to move to Plan B.