good schools aren’t good for you

Saga, my oldest, is cramming for exams. She’s looked drawn, white-faced and far too thin for more than a month now.  No, we don’t, consciously at least, put pressure on her.  Instead it all comes from her school, the other kids and their mad mothers.  It’s terrible!  She is only 13 for heaven’s sake!

The girls’ school has an extraordinary record of placing students at first-rate American universities. This year two kids in a graduating class of about 60 got scholarships to Harvard and the rest were evenly sprinkled between NYU, UC Berkeley and similar brand-name places. It makes quite a change from the school the girls attended in London where they were slotted in to become the servants of the British class system — learning to cut hair, drive a bus, care for children, sell clothes or their bodies …

It would be OK if Saga wasn’t doing so well.  She is no 2 in her class (yes, they keep track of these things).  She had seven A pluses last semester, including, wait for it, an A plus in Chinese!  Clearly, she’s trying everything to defend her record.  But I’m more worried than proud.  She’s not eating anymore, and she hasn’t had any fun for months.

Our other kids are doing equally well, although the big exam stress hasn’t hit them yet.  I’ll worry about them too in due course.

I think we are going to have to take them out of this school and put them in something more average. A school where they don’t have a snowball’s chance of making it into the Ivy League. I refuse to believe that Harvard is the key to success and happiness in life.  Good schools aren’t good for you. I want to see Saga happy again. I want her to start eating again. To have time for fun, her writing and herself.


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