Education is the one thing no one can take away from you.” So said B.B King and as I sat in the assembly hall along side my sixteen year old, Malala Yousafzai and her fight for education crossed my mind. Thankfully, my son only had to choose—A Level’s being the choice of the moment. Stealing a glance at him, during the principal’s welcome speech, it seemed no length of time since I was asking him to choose between a yellow Bob the Builder drinking cup or a red Postman Pat one.

After the speech, we all migrated to our teen’s chosen subject areas. My son had chosen Biology, Chemistry and IT. His choices were set as tight as his lips and his arms across his chest. He wanted to work with exotic animals, maybe in Australia, perhaps in Africa but he had sights on America too. Therefore he didn’t need the subjects he is gifted in—like Art and English—but Biology and Chemistry and that was that!

The chemistry teacher seemed to think he wouldn’t have a problem as long as he applied himself. The Biology teacher was of the same opinion but a tad more concerned. “You’re only cruising. You need to put your backbone into it to make the grade.” With the arms still folded and one leg jigging up and down my son said, “No problem, Sir.” At that we moved on to his third choice, IT.

Over half of the assembly hall seemed to have picked it as well. After a long wait it was a favorable interview. “It’s a great choice for him, I will expect a good result and no matter what his career choice, it will stand to him.” So who was I to argue? In this digital age it seems IT is the way to go.

Still, I wanted to talk to the English and Art teacher just to hear what they had to say but my son’s head was bursting and his belly was starving. So we left the assembly hall in search of food. Quietly I had some concerns.  Unless my boy was considering veterinary (which he didn’t think he was) I didn’t see the point in him putting himself under the pressure of two challenging subjects that he may struggle with. “If you get straight A’s or high B’s in your GCSE Biology and Chemistry then go ahead and pick them…” I found myself saying, “…but for now, why not consider one of them and keep on IT and Art? That way you are leaving your options open.” Eventually my son agreed. “Okay okay. Can we close the subject now?” He leaned forward to take the kebab the Indian lady was offering him and once more I thought of the 15-year-old Pakistani activist who had survived the bullet in her head and had no intention of closing the subject. 

Back at the house after packing his takeaway papers into the bin my boy bent down to give me a hug. “I love you.” I said. “I know,” he answered and with a sheepish grin he reached for his blackberry and disappeared for some R&R (which stands for rest and relaxation apparently.) It was then I decided my drop dead gorgeous ‘cock sure of himself’ son knew everything he needed to know and I know no matter what choices he makes I will always love him—unconditionally—and that’s the other thing no one can take away from you. But sometime soon I am going to ask him if he ever heard tell of Malala Yousafzai…




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