Pity poor parents in A-level agony

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The Independent Online

Imagine being a child, tossing and turning all night on Christmas Eve. Then, half-way through the night, your mother tiptoes in and says: "Oh, sorry, Christmas Day's been delayed. It's next week." How would you feel? Probably all choked up, bottled up and peculiar.

Imagine being a child, tossing and turning all night on Christmas Eve. Then, half-way through the night, your mother tiptoes in and says: "Oh, sorry, Christmas Day's been delayed. It's next week." How would you feel? Probably all choked up, bottled up and peculiar.

This is probably how those students are feeling after being told their results are coming in late. All their adrenalin, building up, waiting to flood their systems in an outburst of either disappointment or joy, has been stopped at source, making them feel rather out of sorts, as if someone's punched them in the throat.

Of course, students expect a little bit of anxiety about exactly when they get their results. And girls, generally, get rather more wound-up than boys. Or, at least, they are more prepared to show their wound-upness in dramatic shrieks and textings and tears. Boys will feel compelled to be cool, shrugging listlessly as they get the news of the delay. "Hey, another few days, what the hell." Actually, an extremely sensible attitude.

But the worst-affected will not be the students, who have each other to lean on, be cool with or get drunk with. No, it's the poor parents, who have been racing downstairs early for the post every day, just in case, who have been wondering for weeks what to do if the results come in before their child has actually woken. Are they allowed to open the envelope? Could they steam it open? Or should they make a frightful racket with the Hoover to raise the child from their slumber?

At this minute parents are arguing with each other about whether to get the child to try again or give it all up and take a training in carpentry. The kids can cope. They can take a little more time. But the parents ... they're adults who imagine they have some control. They'll be on the phone to the examination boards yelling like nobody's business. And I would imagine that sales of alcohol will show a surprisingly upward blip over the next few days.

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