Deborah Ross: Competitive Parenting thrives on deception from all sides

If you ask me...

Share

As the deadline for secondary school applications approaches, this is the time of year when Competitive Parenting reaches its absolute, deadliest peak, and you'd best be prepared or you are going to be blown out of the water.

First, you must limber up. You can limber up anywhere, although most parents choose to do it in bed between, roughly, 2am and 5am on the grounds "I'm having sleepless nights over this." This limbering up is an important part of the process as insomnia-induced nerviness plus excessive fretting is the key driving force, and without it you may not, for example, feel sufficiently motivated to tour schools your child hasn't a chance of getting into and are 27 bus rides away. You may also do something recklessly ill-considered, like consider sending your child to the local state school while hoping for the best. If you feel yourself going down this route, you should ask yourself this: what is 27 bus rides, in the big scheme of things?

Once limbered up, you must face The Conversation. You know The Conversation is going to happen the moment you spot a parent from your child's year in the street and you know The Conversation will start with: "And where is your son/daughter going next year?"

If you suspect this parent has the edge in some way, it may be tempting to respond with: "And where would you like this punch to land?" but, just as easily, you could look at your child and mutter "Westminster" and "scholarship" and "so proud" in the same breath. Or you could say: "All he wants to do these days is practise entrance exam papers. I've had to tell him: what do you think we bought the Xbox for? To gather dust?"

Do not worry if this is a deception, as Competitive Parenting thrives on deception from all sides. You can be sure that the mother who most talks up the local school for its diversity and proximity is the one working hardest on somewhere entirely homogenous 72 train trips and 98 bus rides away. Also, you must never share the names or numbers of any tutors, as this is non-Competitive Parenting on a major scale, and quite disgraceful.

So get ready, and good luck, although do always remember this: once a child has settled into his or her secondary school, any secondary school, they are generally "fine". Indeed, in a recent poll of teenagers who were asked how school was today, 92 per cent replied "Fine", while the other eight per cent also came back with "Fine". So it'll be fine. It always is.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory