I was one of those kids that if are great if you're a middle class parent of an only child, and horrific to anyone else. An uncanny child that appeared to have been born old. My mum loves to go on about how far ahead of my age I was in terms of intelligence when I was little. I know that many many middle class parents do this that they tell everyone that their kid is special, that they're intelligent, that they have a talent.
Turns out though, I did.
I was apparently 8 months old when I started talking, I've barely paused for breath since, and apparently by the time I was 16 months I was sat in a trolley outside Asda Supermarket in Clayton Green, just outside my home town of Chorley and to my mum's surprise I pointed to the sign above the shop and said "What does that sign mean?" Apparently I'd figured out the interplay of signs and signifiers that were required to convey information, in this respect I knew that the sign was a sign, and wanted to know what it meant, as if the knowing of this would unlock one of the key puzzles in human existence. And that was it, I was on my way. I can't remember I time I couldn't read, and at primary school I had a theory that the longer a book was, the better it was and the more difficult to read. like longer equalled more words and therefore better, as if knowledge could be weighed by the pound, the longer a book the more worthwhile and enlightening it would be. Fortunately this was before John Grisham and Dan Brown so this theory could have held water.
The other uncanny trait I had was my memory, I could remember everything from being 18 months old like it was a film on Blu Ray that I could just skip to a scene of and replay it in high definition with Dolby surround sound and repeat back everything that had been said to me. The first time this became apparent was when we had a builder round to the house and I was talking to him and following him round asking things pointing at stuff and telling him all about Star Wars, I must have been about 2 or 3 years old, as I was chatting to him I followed him out to the van where he was getting some stuff and I saw that the back of it was carpeted. I said to him "Oh, that's our old carpet. We used to have that one." My mum who overheard this walked over and looked and went "no, but it's just like one we used to have, how do you remember that?" I said "It's not 'just like' the one we used to have, it is the one we used to have." the builder when pale and said I was right "It is your old one, I was driving past ages ago and saw it'd been thrown out and thought I'd have it for my van." Apparently I was 6 months old when they'd got rid of the carpet.
That one's easy enough though because when you're 6 months old the carpet's pretty close to you most of the time, it's only right that I should recognise it, up to that age the only other thing I should have been able to spot in a line up was my mums boobs.
It wasn't all clever though, around that age I did eat a dog turd, that one's handily forgotten when my mum's telling these stories.
I was a serious and bookish child, on a trip to Blackpool Illuminations (just before my third birthday) with Janet Potter, a friend of my mum's, we were on the top deck of a tram looking at the lights, there were some in the shape of a Macaw, and Janet said to me "ooh, look at that parrot, what's that parrot saying?" My reply was a terse "It's not saying anything you stupid woman, how can it? it's not real it's just an illusion created with lighbulbs."
In fact the more I look back on it the more I realise I was probably exactly like Stewie from Family Guy.
Why am I writing about this? I'll tell you. I just read an article in the Guardian which you can find here about a woman who had twins and sent one to a private school and the other to a state school. It's annoyed me more than anything else I've read today. Never have I more wanted to grab someone by the lapels and slap them about a bit and say "You're doing it all wrong! Bad parent! Bad! Naughty! Get in your basket!"
Whatever your opinions on private schools I personally don't care. I have opinion which will surely be negated by all of those people who wish to flaunt their experiment in practical heterosexuality in my face (ie having a child) and use it as a basis for why their argument is obviously more justifiable than mine, because obviously that's why juries are full of the people directly affected by the crimes of the person in the dock.
"So what's your opinion Beth?"
"Well, I don't think that anyone should be entitled to a better education than anyone else on the basis of the fact that their parents can pay for it."
"Yes, but you don't have kids, and you're not going to be having kids so what do you know?"
"What I know is that I believe in as far as possible levelling the playing field and not giving the richest 10% a leg up in education terms just because they can afford to send their kids to better schools, schools which are taking some of the best teachers out of the state sector because they pay better."
"Yes but you've not got any kids, in fact it's physically impossible for you to have kids so how can you even have an opinion on this? I mean you can have an opinion on this but it doesn't weigh as much as mine as I've had a child so therefore I'm opining for two. It's maths isn't it Beth? That's how Maths works, I've a child, they're my legal responsibility so therefore any decisions I take are made on behalf of me and my child, two people, well one and a half, but the point still stands."
At this point the only way for me to have any sort of a win in this argument is to burst into tears and claim that I'm upset at being barren and mourning for the children I'll never have and why did they bring that up. Usually guilt does the rest.
However my opinion of private schools is not why I was telling you all that, nor was it why that article made my blood boil, it was the tone of the mother in it.
She starts off by trying to justify herself by saying how angst ridden she was, Ohh she was angsty! some days she couldn't move for angst, still it was better than her husband's jaded sense of ennui, or on occasion his hubris. "Poor old middle class me!" she seems to whinge from the opening word: "If"
She quickly moves on to show that she's a good parent, a concerned parent she is, how she's is what every liberal middle class parent with only their child's best interests at heart does and that's to consult the experts. the Multiple Birth Society, (who by the way are excellent) and then she manages to undo all of this, all her right on credentials by then saying her son was smart and excelling and her daughter wasn't.
So what does a concerned parent do? One who wants the best for their children? She writes one off there and then: