Remember holding your baby for the very first time? Looking into their blinking eyes, wondering at their tiny fingers and toes and finding yourself staring at them for hours as they slept? Remember all the promises you whispered as you held them close, drinking in their baby smell, relishing the touch of their soft cheek next to yours?
Years pass but the love we felt for them from that first moment never wanes, despite sleepless nights, tantrums, separation anxiety and the many moments they are less than perfect in public. From their very first breath we protect them, holding their hands crossing the road, worrying about them when they have trouble with friends and worrying just as much when they have friends who are trouble.
We did all that and more because this child of ours, no matter if it’s our only child or one of many, is precious. They mean more to us than the air we breathe. There are no limits to what we would do for them.
Yet tomorrow for many of us, all over Ireland, our children will become numbers as they sit the Leaving Certificate Examination. For the past year they have been imprisoned in a world of education which cannot see further than this exam. They have been taught answers, instructed in essay writing and coached in how to maximise results. The inquiring mind is discouraged, the enthusiastic scholar defeated as they speak daily of the Leaving Cert. The enthusiastic child we left in the care of our education system at five years of age, is nowhere to be seen. There is no room for individuality in the Leaving Cert. One size fits all.
Moments ago I said goodnight to my leaving cert child. Tomorrow I will wave her off. For many parents, I expect, this will be a moment of anxiety and pity, for myself it will be a moment of rage. For who is anyone to judge my daughter or any of the other thousands saying goodbye to their parents, based on exam results? What intelligent person believes a good nurse is only someone who can achieve high points? That to be a doctor it is important you are among the top ten percent academically, or indeed that you are a lesser individual if you chose not to attend university? Yet that is what my daughter has been taught to believe. That is the education system we partake in.
As I watch her walk out our gates tomorrow I will wish her well, but as she walks away I will replay other days I watched her walk through those gates, all the way back to the excitement of her first day at playschool. As she disappears from sight, I’ll travel back just a little bit more, until closing the front door I will remember opening it eighteen years earlier, my precious, beautiful daughter in my arms, coming home for the first time.
For regardless of what these exam results tell the world, to me she will always be, just as she was the first time I ever saw her…perfect.
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photo credit: Sad lady in library via photopin (license)
18 thoughts on “The night before…Leaving Cert thoughts.”
Oh my! How beautifully expressed. My children are long grown, but I grieve for all the children whose creativity has been stifled. My guess is that it will burst forth again once she is free of the demanding restraints.
Good luck, good mom!
I agree i have no doubt that she and the thousands of others sitting these exams or ones like them all over the world will find their way. These exams will launch a few, but I don’t think they do the majority any good at all.
Sigh, I’ll just have to bite my tongue tomorrow.
So very well written. All the best to your daughter, and you.
Thank you. It has begun. Hopefully she’ll come home happy.
Lovely read. Good luck to your daughter!
Thank you. She’s a real worker so I’ve little doubt she’ll get what she wants in life.
i understand this completely, tric. as you know, i am not a fan of standardized tests, i think the real proof is in observing the person.
Yes I completely agree. I usually say to them ‘come back when you’re thirty and you might know where you’re going in life and how well you are doing’
I hope she does well in her exams, but the results definitely don’t define her (or anybody else for that matter) as a person. I have a vested interest in feeling this way. If my test results in mathematics were the lens through which the rest of the world saw me, I would be expected to eat all meals with a spoon and wouldn’t be allowed out the house by myself.
Haha. I’m not far behind you. I trained as a nurse in my day and it was all I wanted to do. I doubt I’d have the ability to qualify for that course now so I’d have to travel to Scotland or England. Crazy when you think I could then return and work as a nurse here.
Really beautiful post, I hope your daughter reads it! And I agree completely, we are all made to feel that life begins or ends with the LC results, I really hope she is relaxed and happy during these exams. That is the most important.
Thanks Naomi. I’m not sure I’ll show it to her but someday I certainly will.
She’s hopefully writing away as I type. One down. Roll on Monday week.
And the standardized tests just get worse. 😦
But good luck to her. And you and she can focus on summer together!
So beautiful, Tric. Your writing is perfection 😀 ❤ I think sometimes that our analytical world forgets that there are all kinds of intelligence that can't be measured with a test. Some of my favorites are the intelligence of the heart, the intelligence of creativity, of humor, of kindness, of determination, of heroism. None of those are measured with tests and often they matter more.
Yes indeed. Last night there was a comment made by her about not wishing to be ‘average.’ I tried to say I consider myself definitely not ‘average’ yet if I were to sit the leaving cert again I’d very definitely be that or even ‘below average.’
However I’m her parent so I’m not sure I was listened to. Life will teach her as it tends to do.
Life has a way of doing that. 😀
Loving and so beautiful, Tric.
Thank you Michele. She’s not read it but it’s there for her if ever she does.