The last 1st year award ceremony – at least for the foreseeable future.

I am falling to bits.

My left ear drum is perforated. And by the feel of it my right one is no far behind.

My ankle’s also playing up. Surprising me every unpredictable now-and-again by just buckling – like it was remotely controlled by malevolent clowns.

The cobbles directly outside the front door did for it back in January. (Well, a combo of the cobbles and the Cos platform/flatforms that I love but which have been a ‘challenge’ to wear..). And now the min 10000 steps per day fund-raiser have sealed the deal. I am hobbling.

Add to that this overwhelming peri-menopausal fatigue that just wipes me out – but which refuses to allow me to actually sleep – and I am one sad sorry mess.

I’m off work today – ostensibly to attend Ana’s school prize-giving – but I think I’d have been off anyway.

Prize-givings don’t much help fatigue. Droning Headteacher presenters spouting cliched worthy-tudes; score upon score of wee ‘good’ wains trotting up to shake-handedly receive their award or certificate or trophy – all re-establishing that deadly somnambulant rhythm of school. Or what I associate with school.

The only thing that kept me awake was the ever so slightly out of tune and out of synch school band – and the ‘Young Singer of the Year’ (ditto).

It’s aye the same. I remember from my time and from all the older kids. Though I’ve managed to avoid attending the vast majority of school shows and award ceremonies and end of terms brouhahas.

I wonder if I should have made more effort. I wonder. But not for long.

I think Jamie best captured all my hypocrisy and the mess of internal contradictions and mental contortions when   – on discovering that he’d won some subject prizes for 4th year (he’s 16 – there are formal qualifications involved) and not actually told us until it was all over – he exclaimed ‘It’s all shit anyway. Why’d ye need a prize for jist doing yer work?’

He then had a right go at me for signing up to actually graduate in person. How much’s that gonnae cost? A right waste ae money that’ll be. Whit dye need a ‘gown’ fur? Do ye no believe them that ye’ve passed? Yer jist an elitist, you. Ye ur.

I wittered about ‘celebration’ and about how the meal I’d organised for everyone was to say thanks to them for putting up with my deadline panics and crabbitness… He just looked at me – like I was daft. A look that said: don’t act it, you actually believe in all this academic pat-on-the-back stuff and you like swanning aboot in a ridiculous gownie cos it makes you feel better than everyone else – just tell the truth Mother.

He scares me, that one.

His so-often jaundiced-sounding vision is really a lithic scalpel cutting through all our bullshit.

He is way brighter than any of us in this house. And that doesn’t much happen to me – that I find someone way brighter than me – someone who can (and has) beaten me in an argument, with his first bloody sentence – someone whose verbal dexterity and mental acuity can thoroughly and absolutely blast me out the park. Ana and Evan frequently end their arguments with him with either violence or the loudest screamingest I hate him!!! Mind you, sometimes so do I…

Anyway, back to Ana.

She wasn’t for telling us about the ceremony either. She doesn’t much like learning. And she absolutely despises reading (oh deepest painful sorrow of mine). She’d rather be making. But – despite her efforts – she’s reasonably academically smart. And, disaster of disasters – for someone who doesn’t want to be known as ‘brainy’ – she is also competitive. So, the discovery that Jamie only got 98% in Maths whilst she got 100% was likely the highlight of her year.

So why did I go when I’ve got this cob on about award ceremonies and the sausage factory madness of our educational over-emphasis upon the academic?

I decided to go because… well, because she is a wee star. Because I am really proud of her – not for the Maths thing or the Merit award – those are incidental to it all, to how I feel about her. She is uncomplaining happy good company on the rainiest of days. She is the child who has unflinchingly accompanied me on every 10km walk. Geeing me up when I am a bit slumped. The child who asks for little or nothing. But the one who absolutely shines when your gaze is upon her – when you are showing her just how much you love and are proud of her.

I don’t give a shit about certificates. And to tell the truth I worry about what their existence does to the kids who just miss out – or whose skills are people and social as opposed to books and learning but who never do get the recognition and praise they deserve.

But tonight I’ll have my own award to give her. One that tells her how fantastic and funny and caring and loving and generous and sporty and spikey she is – and how much we love the whole Ana-package.