Monday, 14 November 2011

Dilemmas Academic

Waif is a bright and determined young lady.  Lots of anorexics are - I guess it is the same determination and perseverance that allows them to take such control of their eating and also to work persistently.    You couldn't be a slapdash anorexic.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you will know that it began with her moving from her high pressure academic london girls' school to a gentler, local mixed school.  There were several reasons for this:  firstly, I was worried that fall outs with class mates was making her unhappy at her last school (she had a year dominated by a couple of really very nasty characters which had an enormous impact on the rest of the class), secondly I wanted to be close enough to supervise lunches if necessary (it wasn't, luckily) and thirdly because her old school dropped a very unsubtle hint that they could not cope with her, which I suspect meant that they were aware of their disastrous reputation for anorexia.  They certainly, for all their ultimate sympathy on leaving, made it difficult for the girls to eat.  aside:  I would love to campaign for schools to have a sacrosanct lunch hour, like hospitals are encouraged to do, devoid of meetings arranged, detentions given or information sessions during the time they should be eating, and that all girls should be able to eat even if they have forgotten their passes.

Roll on 18 months:  Waif is happy and settled in her local school.  She has a lovely set of friends whom she sees nearly every day after school, boys and girls alike.   Her teachers adore her.  The world looks bright.

Here is a picture break- 2 of our cats:

BUT Waif sees Older Daughter in her UCAS struggles - Cambridge is her top choice - and how every mark at GCSE and AS level counts.  Waif has begun to look to the future and has decided that she wants to go to Oxford,  the problem being that at her current school the academics are okay rather than excellent.  At "A" level next year, she will be in a class with students aiming at B and C grades as well as those aiming for A and A*.   One of her chosen "A" level subjects is taught by a whacky and inspirational teacher who has not achieved good grades for his pupils last year, sadly.  The upshot of this is that Waif has been looking around at Sixth Form options.  Last week she took the entrance exam for a prestigious central London girls' school, performed well and has been asked for interview on Thursday.  I suspect she did outstandingly in the Further Maths paper as she said it asked her for proofs.  She had never done a proof before but said that she got them all (!)  out.  I am not wholly surprised as she is a natural, even though she does not wildly care for the sciences.

Waif still looks to us for guidance and I am not sure whether to steer her away from a school move, or to encourage it...or to let her decide wholly alone.  I have tried to lay out some pro's and cons as I see them:  classes at Top School will be faster and more inspiring and their Oxbridge results are stunning.  On the other hand, she will not have any established friends there, and we agreed it took 6-12 months for her to make good friends at Local School, and she will not be singled out for particular attention in the way she will be at her Local School where the Head is very keen to groom his Oxbridge candidates in order to build up the reputation of the school.  Also, if you move at sixth form to a school with an established pupil base (rather than a sixth form college where all are new), you can guarantee you will not be the one picked for prefect, or Head Girl, or Head of Games or cut slack when you are ill as you are an unknown quantity yet to establish your good reputation - she is a complete teacher's dream so very likely to have some of those things at her current school.

And together with all of this, is the anorexia.  This she is less willing to discuss.  In my mind, academic success will bring her happiness and help her to be stable, but various friends have counselled me that Oxbridge is bad news for anorexics as it is so high pressure.  Top School also has its fair share of anorexics.

Waif is up to some of her old tricks:  breakfast is now a minimally small bowl of bran flakes and a piece of dry toast.  Lunch yesterday was a small bowl of soup and a piece of bread.  She SWORE to me that she had eaten cake at Costa and a good supper at a friend's house but sometimes she kids herself.  I am working up to getting her on the scales to check my fears.  She DOES look thin but then I met a fellow runner yesterday who sees Waif at the gym who reckoned she just looked lanky.  I have lost the ability to judge.  One thing I am certain of is that she has become defensive and grumpy which I remember all too well from the time 2 years ago that she was rapidly losing weight :-(

In conclusion, the ONLY thing I care about is Waif's wellbeing and happiness.  I know these all hinge on her eating properly and maintaining a healthy body.  What I am less clear about is whether this will all follow on form academic success (which will make her happy).  I am inclined to encourage her to stay at Local School where she is loved and cherished, and to grab the opportunities afforded to her for academic enhancement should she want those.  Local School does, after all, have some Oxbridge success.


1 comment:

  1. i suggest keeping her local. when i went away, my anorexic ways turned into bulimic ways which lasted for 11 years of torture. instead of walking on eggshells, you need to talk to her about it. be frank about your concerns as related to each option. she might hate you now, (and she probably will), but she'll thank you later.