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Friday's child

Victoria Neumark on what it's like to be .... a can-do boy

Recently, Jonathan had a problem. He had forgotten his maths homework, so he got a telling off. When he still couldn't find it, his dad wrote him a note, so it was OK. Also, his girlfriend Sally chucked him. They had been going out for six months and she just said she was bored. It was upsetting, so he cried all over his mother. Then he told his dad and cried again. Then he went to sleep. In the morning, he felt awful, so his mum let him have the day off school. She came back early from work and took him to the pictures.

Next day, life didn't seem so terrible, and on the bus he noticed that Jadine from the year below was definitely interested. Plus, Sally didn't seem all that cheerful either. And his dad said not to forget they were going sailboarding that weekend and did he want to bring a friend?

Of course, it is a bit stressful doing your GCSEs, especially when your parents say you can't go out more than once a week. But Jonathan's parents have been going over some of the papers with him and they seem to think he will do all right. Anyhow, if he doesn't, what the hell, he can always try again. As his dad says, there's lots of second chances in this life. And the football team he plays in rose four places up the league table, thanks - as his brothers say - to his brilliant goal-keeping.

He has got awful spots, mind you. But his aunt says there's this brilliant spot lotion she's read about and she works in the chemist and she's bringing some over on Saturday, which is also the day he works in the record store (pretty good, hey?). Saturday is usually a good day because he gets paid and they all have a bit of a laugh, but he does miss going to the football with his dad so next season he's going to get a different job, either at the football ground itself or with his dad's friend who prints the programmes and gets some free tickets, which would be wicked.

After GCSEs Jonathan will probably stay on. It makes sense, doesn't it? He should get reasonable marks, even good marks if he applies himself, which he is going to, some of the time. His mates - there's a group of them who like the same music and support the same football team - say it would be great to go to university. Lots of free time and you get a good job at the end of it. Jonathan's not quite so sure - it sounds like a lot of hard work, but on the other hand he's enjoyed his time studying at school and the careers teacher was sure he would do ok.

Jonathan is a can-do boy, a success story identified recently by Adrienne Katz in her impressive survey of teenage boys, called Tomorrow's Men. Britain's can-do boys are a group - a quarter of Ms Katz's sample of 1,400 13 to 19-year-olds - who are set to do well at school, better even than the most successful girls.

A leading lad like Jonathan has high self-esteem, a good relationship with his parents and a father who's involved. He's a boy who views school favourably and is viewed favourably by it. The worst comment he ever had on his report was: "If Jonathan wasn't so relaxed he might surprise us all." When he looks at the world he thinks: "Yes, I can do that." Luckily for us all, he probably will.

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