Zannah has just had her results from her second year reading Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, London. She was thrilled to find she had 2.1s for most modules and a 1st for the final one. Academia and success have not come easily for our lovely daughter. Her sixth forms years were marred by emotional crises and she left school with Art as her only A level. A very successful Art Foundation Course in Nottingham was followed by two years starting but not completing two art based degrees. On each occasion she felt frustrated by the lack of theory and general stimulation, but without confidence in her own ability to do anything else she didn’t know where to turn. Luckily a very good friend pointed out to her, just a few days before the final date for UCAS forms to be in, that all her interests came together in anthropology, so why didn’t she apply for that. The form and personal statement were cobbled together over 24 hours and the result, following interviews, was the offer of places at three universities. Despite her lack of formal qualifications they must have seen the potential in her. She took Goldsmiths and loves the course, although essay writing has been hard without the training that most people get in the final years of school.
Our experience of parenting has been that only one of our three children followed the conventional path through good A levels to a university of his choice (although not the first one), 2.1 degree and post-graduate professional diploma (law). That’s Will, the middle one. The eldest and youngest have had to weather crises of one sort or another before fulfilling their potential in their own personal ways. We are very proud of them all.
What we can never know, and we do ask them from time to time, is if their way of coming into our family has had anything to do with the dark and difficult times each, including Will, has been through. Two by donor conception and one abandoned by his (genetic) father when he was one year old. They all deny that their origins have played any role in their past problems. Are they shielding Walter and I from their difficult feelings? Well, that could be so but they know we are open to them being honest with us and nothing has emerged so far.
As far as education is concerned, we can only recommend the patient and supportive route to eventual fulfilment. Each child had to find their own way in their own time and we sometimes wondered if they would ever get there. But they have, and that’s wonderful.