Tomorrow you’re going to get your GCSE results.
I can still vividly recall the day you started school nursery. I left you at nursery and I cried as I walked back to the car. I remember having to scrub at my face once I got to work because I’d gone full on panda with the smudged eyeliner and mascara and I looked a total state (nothing new there then, I hear you say!). You were so little. Your book bag seemed so big as you held it in your chubby little hands so proudly. You longed to be a ‘big boy’ and go to ‘big boy’ school, and now, within what seems like a blink of an eye, you’ve come to the end of your school journey.
I went to every single Parents Evening bar one. On that one occasion, I’d just been discharged from hospital after having your baby sister and Dad went instead (because I don’t think you’d have appreciated me rocking up at your school in my Christmas slippers and maternity PJs complete with baby vomit on the shoulder). And do you know what? On every single occasion, and I mean EVERY single occasion, your Teachers told me how bright you were, how clever you were, how you were exceeding all expectations. I would leave, every single time, basking both in glorious pride, and utter confusion at how your Dad and I were able to produce such an intelligent young man.
And you remain that intelligent, clever, smart young man today. Guess what? This time tomorrow, regardless of what that piece of paper says, you’ll still be that smart boy that you are today. That piece of paper could tell you that you’ve failed every exam and it still won’t change the fact that you are what you are. You will be tomorrow, everything that you are today. And today you stand in front of me as a smart, clever, articulate, curious, gentle, kind, compassionate and sensitive human being. A few numbers on a bit of paper doesn’t change that.
The exams were tough for you. I know that. You have been suffering with anxiety for a number of years but it was really heightened around the time of the exams. I know you felt the pressure. It didn’t matter how many times we told you that you can only do your best and that we’d be proud of you regardless, you still looked like you were carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders every single day as you left the house for school. From conversations we have had over the summer, I know you feel you haven’t done well. You aren’t expecting big things tomorrow morning. And whether you’re wrong or you’re right, I wanted to write this letter to say that, either way, it really is alright. (FYI I’ve told you this in person on many occasions but I think you listen to perhaps 0.5% of what I say to you (apart from where conversations involve food or pocket money…) so I thought I’d pop it in writing for you too 😉 )
You could never disappoint us. You could flunk every exam and I would still be bursting with pride – do you want to know why? Because you are a special human. Your sensitive nature and your kindness and compassion means more than exam results. You are resilient; you have suffered bullying for many years at school and you struggle with anxiety – yet you still got up every morning and went to school. You still went and sat those exams, even though the anxiety was making you feel physically sick to the stomach. You are so patient and so understanding. You have a (very demanding…) little sister and you have a Mum who isn’t always on the top of her game health wise. You are such a good help in both respects – if you see me struggling, you help without even needing to be asked. You know the difference between right and wrong and will challenge something if you think it is unfair or unjust. Finally, you have the biggest heart. You are the most wonderful son and brother.
And, you see, in a world where there is so much darkness and hate going on in society at the moment, it is these things the world needs more than anything. The world needs more kindness, more love, more compassion. The world needs more people who know right from wrong. The world needs people with big hearts. These are the things that matter. Yes, it would be lovely for you to achieve what your Teachers have predicted you in your GCSEs, I would like that for you too; but you have to remember that you already have inside of you what really matters – and whatever tomorrow brings cannot and will not change that.
As for where your future will go, certain steps are impacted by what is written on that paper tomorrow. You might get what you need to do the A Levels you want to do. You might not. Regardless, we will find a way. If ‘Plan A’ doesn’t go to, well, ‘plan’, then we’ll make a Plan B. One way or another, we will find a way and you need to trust that whatever happens tomorrow will lead you to being exactly where you need to be. I know you have big dreams and ambitions and I truly believe that you have everything you need and more in you to achieve them. The path to get there could take many possible forms. It might be exactly what you expected, or that path might need to take a slightly different route. It doesn’t matter though, because once you arrive at your destination, nobody is going to ask you how you got there. Because you got there. And that’s all that matters.
As your Mum, what I want for you way more than any academic qualifications or big ambitions realised, is happiness. If you’re happy, then I am happy. And I mean that. Your happiness was stolen from you for a number of years and it broke my heart every single day to see you so sad. In the nicest possible way, I don’t care what you end up studying, or where (disclaimer: I’m lying. I’d like you to stay as close to home as possible please!!), what you end up doing for a living, or where your future takes you; all I care about is that you are happy.
Whatever tomorrow brings, please just remember that I could not be any more prouder of you. You have everything in you already that you need to succeed, in whatever you decide to pursue. You are a truly beautiful human being and you will never know the joy and pride you have brought me over the last sixteen years.
I automatically wanted to sign off with ‘Good Luck’ but I changed my mind, you don’t need it. You, my lovely boy, are going to be just fine.
An exciting path awaits for you regardless.