You know how when you're a little kid you read Enid Blyton books about girls who go off to boarding school and have a whale of a time playing lacrosse and having midnight feasts? And you tell your parents that you want nothing more in the world than to go to boarding school and stay up late in your dorm every night and to eat pork pies and to go horse-riding and go on nature trails?
I was one of those kids. With most kids, though, they grow out of it, and they make friends and they like going home in the evening. I never did. Boarding school has always been something I've wanted to do. It's not just the Enid Blyton influence, I honestly think it'd be good for me.
I stopped reading Enid Blyton when I was about ten. I've stopped asking to go to boarding school. I don't need to ask any more. Last week, my mother sat me down and told me she couldn't bear to have me under her roof any more, and that she thought I should go to boarding school. This was after a series of events involving my mental health, and my school telling her that she was part of the problem, and her denying it completely, because obviously if i'm unhappy, it's because I'm having problems at school. Not because my parents' relationship is crumbling, or because of my mother's refusal to communicate, or because she thinks that just because she's a psychologist, her family can't have any kind of mental health problem. To be perfectly honest, school has been the only place where I can feel good about myself. I'm happier at school than I am at home. I don't dread getting up in the morning, but every evening I find some excuse to stay out late so I don't have to go home until absolutely necessary.
It must have been a shock for her to find out, but frankly, the way she reacted disgusted me. The parts of the last week she hasn't spent screaming abuse at me, she's spent ignoring me completely. Apparently, I'm a self-centred idiot who doesn't care about anyone but myself. I'm rude, obnoxious, and do I know what I'm doing to the rest of the family?
Well, mother dearest, as far as I'm aware, the rest of this family is already broken up into tiny little pieces because of your behaviour. It's because of your inability to cope with the first hurdle you hit that you've decided that the best plan of action is to send the problem far, far away to boarding school where you don't have to see it, even during the school holidays, when you can pack the problem off to summer camp. And in two years' time, the problem will be gone for good, to university. Because, yes, although you hate to admit it, the problem's got a good head on its shoulders. The problem is determined to go to university and study engineering, to make more out of its life than its mother did.
But even though I'd quite like to go to boarding school, it's for all the wrong reasons. I'm meant to want to go for the educational breadth, for the range of extra-curricular activities, for the experience. Instead, I just need to get away from the stifling atmosphere in the place I won't be calling home for much longer.
And what of my old school? There are three people in particular I'll miss. To be honest, I don't know what I'll do without them. They all agree that my mother has lost it, and that I'm probably going to ruin my academic future by moving schools at this point in the year. Slowly but surely, though, their pictures will fade from my head, until there's nothing left but this bland newness from which I will derive no pleasure but the relief of being away from home.
I'll need to go back. But I can't allow myself to do that. The school which was my home, my sanctuary, is no more. I'm gone now, and my mother has made sure I've got no way of returning. For that I'm supposed to be grateful, but instead I shall weep silently into my pillow each night, and long for those three people. When I think of them, I hope I'll smile. I don't think I'll be doing much smiling otherwise.