Dear Reader, this has been quite a packed week for me as not only did I have to get the final, final, FINAL edits in on my memoir, but the Lastborn returned from safari in Zimbabwe (thank you Wilderness Destinations for her wonderful trip) AND got her matric results AND celebrated her crown birthday (she turned 19 on the 19th).
In terms of the matric results, the wait has been agonising for the kids (and the parents). We were crossing fingers and assorted body parts that she got the results she needed to get final acceptance into varsity.
Comparison is indeed the thief of joy and it’s even harder for our kids now with everyone’s successes being plastered all over social media. My attitude to this has been that we would celebrate the Lastborn’s results, regardless of what she got, even if we celebrated with rictus grins and through clenched teeth, because it’s also the milestone we are celebrating and not just the results.
As it turned out, by the time she got the results at 11.45 pm, we were too exhausted to celebrate. I barely slept after all the excitement and felt like a complete zombie on Wednesday although I did buck up a bit after a lovely function at her school complete with cupcakes and champagne. I don’t know what it is about her school, but they manage to make all the kids feel like they got 12 As (can you even get 12?? Dunno). There was such an air of collective celebration, it was quite awe-inspiring.
Luckily, her results were respectable but I am aware that not everyone has been as fortunate. In hindsight it’s very easy to trot out cliches like ‘life is a marathon not a sprint’, but when you’re 18 and you don’t get the results you were hoping for or don’t get into the course you wanted to study or perhaps fail your matric, it can feel like the end of the world.
Failure is a great teacher but at the time you’re going through it, it’s shit. I’m a writer, I should know. This is really not the time to be telling anyone to count their blessings or pull themselves towards themselves or that it’s really not that bad, they can repeat the year – even if the kids in question are monumentally privileged – suffering is suffering.
Which brings me to Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare. Excellent name and fantastic marketing campaign but did we really need that mention of his willy (not his brother, his penis)? And in conjunction with my fave 8 hour cream? I love the Elizabeth Arden product mentioned – now every time I look at it, I will think…royal penis. Honestly, the book did not need the royal member’s inclusion.
Penises aside, I found the book incredibly poignant. This is a guy who was deeply traumatised over his mother’s death and then re-traumatised by his experiences in Afghanistan and by the never-ending bullshit from the tabloid press. He’s also a good example of why we shouldn’t expect kids to display a stiff-upper-lip, and tell them to suck it up, stop moaning etc…particularly when they have real grievances or deep hurts that need to be addressed. If you do, your kid might not run off and write an eye-wateringly honest memoir about the family, but it will blight their lives in other ways.
Being someone who is still worried that her father who has been dead for twenty years will be pissed off with her about what she’s written in her memoir, I take my hat off to Harry for his honesty. I’ve now watched the full series on Netflix, and I must apologise for calling his life a soap opera, the show was a good reminder that these are real people with real feelings and I really hope that he and his family sort their shit out.
Capturing the Killer Nurse (the doccie behind The Good Nurse) and Sins of Our Mother. Both riveting and you-can’t-make-this-shit-up vibes. The killer nurse tries to bullshit everyone that he was putting all these sick peeps out of their misery, in reality he was killing them off when they started to show signs of getting better and he clearly got off on it. The Sins of Our Mother gave me Devilsdorp vibes where the killing was a result of cultish, they-are-all-possessed-so-I need-to-kill-them kind of stuff. What struck me about both of these cases is the banality of evil.
The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell which is a sequel to her bestselling The Family Upstairs and ties up all the loose ends very nicely as well as being a total pageturner. I also read Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane. This is a fabulous romcom and I just ADORE her sense of humour, she is one of the funniest writers I’ve come across. Was literally snorting my coffee.
And obvs, Spare, which I didn’t find packed with salacious details (besides the penis bit) – a lot of that has been exaggerated in the press. Rather, I found it to be really well-written (props to ghostwriter, J. R. Moehringer) and I think it’s a good example of complicated grief and of the horrors of a life lived in the spotlight.
To finish off, I want to say a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the class of ’22. Just getting to this point, dealing with three years of a pandemic and loadshedding and everything else is a MASSIVE achievement. Please all give yourselves a pat on the back for making it this far, we are so very proud of you.
And a special thank you to all the fabulous teachers at Kingsmead College. Although the school achieved impressive results, I really feel like it was about the journey, not the destination and what a fantastic journey it was. Because I don’t feel like teachers get enough credit, I would like to extend a special mention to the following teachers who went above and beyond the call of duty for the Lastborn:
- John Allen
- Apel Kunene
- Bianca Meyer
- Tracey Minnie
- Erika Snyman
- Michael Soutar
- Danielle Wepener
- Frances Wilmot
And special thanks to the wonderful head, Lisa Palmer.
To the matrics who didn’t get the results they were hoping for – if you’re in a bad space, please, please reach out to your school or your parents and if that’s not an option, there are helplines available at SADAG. Sending love to you all xxx