Reading my last posts, I think that it is time for something more light hearted. Let’s talk about a British invention: boarding schools. You see, here, when your kids are seven, you can send them to a boarding school. This means that you are only going to see them during week-ends -if you are lucky- or during holidays-when they are not holidaying with their friends.
This is the main reason why British people tend to have only one child if they are not insanely rich. You see, for the privilege of not seeing your child any more, you will have to fork out more than 3500 pounds a month. Yes, you read that well.
Apparently, boarding schools are back in fashion. My daughter, at some point, even wanted to go to one, because all her British friends wanted to…it made my French blood boil. The phase passed, which is good -and we won’t have to remortgage the house.
I asked one of her classmates why she wanted to go. She answered me that “it was going to help her independence”. I was gobsmacked. She was ten. I must have missed a trick.
What is the impact of going to a boarding school? Well, it depends. Most kids seem to survive, find themselves and even thrive, but some are emotionally damaged for a long, long time. Going to a boarding school shapes you for life. It leaves subtle marks: a certain distance when you speak to others, a will of perfection in everything you do, a fierce independence mixed with extreme vulnerability, and a sense of having been through something, a real accomplishment. Oh, and boarding schools are single sex, I am convinced that it might explain why over here so many men are into cross-dressing. Weird.
Most of the time, it’s not too bad for the kids. But for all French mums, the result is the same: lots of tears and anti-depressants eventually. Wine might help. Some friends of mine started drinking in their forties, when their kids left for boarding school. And they had to spend more money in rehab, cleaning their act. They ended up almost broke, and sometimes single. Tough.
And then, a lot of Brits want to make it look like they went to a posh and expensive boarding school, when they weren’t. It is a pretend game. One day, they are all posh, the next, they are chewing gum and swearing as if there is no tomorrow. Why can’t they just accept who they are?
As for me, I would only send my children to a boarding school if I had no choice (i.e. If I was sick, or living far from a city). Call me a French Mum!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London