Tag Archives: school

Join Me in More Parental Confessions

Sign that says "Confessions Booth"

While browsing through some of my past posts I came across one I had written in 2012 – Three Parental Confessions. In there I confessed to three times where I felt I had fallen a bit short of being the perfect mother. I now need to unburden myself of a couple more such incidents, and give you the opportunity to confess too.

French Lessons

When my son started secondary school three years ago, he was doing just fine in all of his lessons except French, where he really struggled. I spent a lot of time trying to help him with his French homework, but he just couldn’t grasp any of it. In the end I was just doing the homework for him and he would copy it into his book. I told him that at the parents’ evening, I would speak to his French teacher, and see if there was any extra help they could give him. He didn’t really want me to do that; he said that he had already decided he was going to drop French after Year 9 when he picked his options, so there was no point. I insisted that there was a point because he still had to do French for two and a half more years until he could drop it.

When the parents’ evening arrived, my son and I walked over to the French teacher’s table. As we approached, she had a huge smile. Before I had a chance to tell her about his struggles, she said “I’m SO pleased you’ve come to see me because I want to tell you how well your son is doing in French!”

Toy of teacher at desk

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, and went on to tell me how he was grasping concepts that the rest of the class weren’t, and how he was much more advanced that she would expect from a year 7 student. I sat there lapping it up, a little confused, but delighted.

Finally she pulled out a book. “I’ll show you what I mean,” she said. It was his homework book. She began leafing through it, showing me all the pieces of homework I had done, saying things like “Look at this! 10 out of 10! Nobody ever gets 10 out of 10 for this,” “And look at this, I didn’t expect anyone to understand this so quickly!”

After the discussion we had just had I felt far too awkward to say “Oh I see, no, I did all that.” So I just sat there smiling, saying things like, “Wow, that’s great! I’m so pleased!” and “Wait, why is that one only 9/10? Let me see that.”

As we walked away my son said “Good job mum, telling her how much I’m struggling with it.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I told him. “You’re dropping French after Year 9.”

Raffle Prize

On one occasion when my kids were at primary school, we went to a quiz evening at their school. My son was 8 and my daughter 11. They were also doing a raffle. The raffle tickets were sold at the start of the evening and the draw was at the end of the evening. Those who won were able to go and choose whatever prize they wanted from the prize table.

I bought three strips of tickets, one each for me, my son, and my daughter. When it came to the draw, one of my son’s numbers was drawn. “Ooh, what are you going to pick?” I asked him.

Used raffle tickets

“I’m going to pick the travel game!” he said, and began walking up to the prize table while people applauded him. I tried to let it go, I really did. But I had seen the travel game earlier and it was one of those rubbishy little sets that quite clearly came from the £1 shop. He almost made it to the table when I couldn’t take it any more, I leaped out of my seat, ran up, practically shoved him out of the way and grabbed the case of beer instead. I’m pretty sure there were a few shocked gasps from the other parents who had all witnessed my behaviour.

As we did the walk of shame back to our seats I muttered to my son “I’ll buy you a travel game, it’s just that this is worth much more.” I like to think I was teaching him something about value. In case you’re wondering, yes I did buy him a travel game, and no I didn’t enjoy the beer; it was too tainted with my guilt.

So come on, fess up, what parenting mistakes are you ashamed of? You’ll feel better if you share.

Photo credits:
Confession booth sign
Toy teacher at desk
Raffle tickets


A Small Favour (with a ‘u’) To Ask…

Dolls in school

I need some help with sharing a link, via Twitter, or whatever means you would like. It’s part of the research that I’m doing for my dissertation. I’m looking at how mentoring is used with students in schools, particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I’ve set up a survey which is for staff in any schools in England (secondary school age) to fill in. Even if you’re not based in England yourself, you probably have followers on your social media platforms who are, so the more people who can share the link, the more potential survey-completers I will find!

This is the link to the survey:


I’ve prepared a couple of versions of a tweet that you can simply copy and paste (you’re welcome), or feel free to share the link to the survey in any other way you would like. I would be SOOOOOO grateful.


Do you work in a secondary school in England? Do you have 10 mins to fill in a survey? http://heat.surveything.net/12DW636 @VanessaJ2011

If you work in a secondary school in England, please consider filling in this survey, thank you! http://heat.surveything.net/12DW636 @VanessaJ2011

The survey will be open for two weeks initially, but I may extend if I need to.

Apologies that I haven’t been as active in reading and commenting on your blogs lately, I’ve been busy with my studies, some of you have been lucky enough to receive a visit from me, ha! But it’s all been a bit random. Normal service will resume in September.

Thanks in advance of your help!

photo credit: – Annetta – via photopin cc

He shall be my squishy

A Clown FishPhotograph of clown fish by aitvaras

How do I love thee Finding Nemo? Let me count the ways…

I am generally quite happy to accept that we all have different opinions, without feeling the need to try and prove that my opinion is the right one. However, if anyone says that Finding Nemo is not the greatest feature length animation film ever made, I shall fight them in the streets over it (figuratively). It has it all – humour, tragedy, courage, determination, loyalty, friendship, a blue fish with a short memory, love, addiction recovery, teamwork, triumph over adversity, beautiful scenery, and a blue fish with a short memory. I took my daughter to see it at the cinema, she must have been 4 or 5; it wasn’t the first time she had been to the cinema, but it was the first time she sat still and watched a whole film through without fidgeting and talking. We were both enthralled.

Aside from loving the film just because it’s great, I’ve also come to realise that so many parts of it are reflections of my life, more metaphorically than literally, but sometimes literally! I have selected a couple of examples:

Near the beginning, when Nemo is getting ready to go to school with his Dad Marlin, they don’t just leave their anemone home once, no, Marlin is very anxious, so they test things out a bit. They go out, and back in again, out and back in again, out and back in again. If you want to see that bit, go along to 1:14 on the clip below (sorry for the quality of it). I shall explain how it relates to me below the clip…

Finding Nemo – TM & © Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved

…Because I do some acting and performing, I have to put myself out there a bit. The problem is, I’m actually quite shy and socially awkward – you wouldn’t know it from this site would you, with the big header picture which screams “Look at me everybody!”. I expect a psychologist would say that there is some over-compensation going on here; I put on a display of bold self confidence which I can then hide behind. I expect the psychologist would be right. But sometimes when I come onto this site, I cringe a bit and worry that people must think I’m really “up myself”. The same with my business cards, I had business cards made with my photo on them because it seemed like a good idea, but whenever I give them out I end up apologising that they have a photo of me on them. I go out, and back in again…out, and back in again.

The second and final clip is the classic “Just keep swimming” song. Over recent years I’ve been through some tough times, and the words of this song have quite literally kept me going at times, they really have. Whatever happens, and however difficult things might seem, you just have to keep going until you get through it. I have said it to myself many a time, try it, you’ll see: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Finding Nemo – TM & © Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved