Thank God It's Friday

Rosemary Baxter

Monday: Open season has been declared on our top juniors and the headhunters are out in force. Christopher has brought home yet another brochure from yet another secondary school - a glossy production, full of photographs of cherubic children. Not many 15-year-olds grace its blazered pages. I wonder why?

We are invited to attend an open evening to help us make this vital decision about our child's future. Do they really think the recently imported potted plants and hastily-produced posters will make that much difference to parental choices? Chinese whispers at the school gate have far more effect.

Tuesday: Another school feels we really should see what it has to offer. At this rate I shan't have an evening at home before the time comes to hand in the form. I don't know if I can take it. Christopher wants to play the game like his first-born friends, but we both know the decision was really made for him when Eleanor changed schools.

Wednesday: We're off to view the obvious choice. It's just as well we're taking a couple of our own Sherpa guides - Eleanor and a friend.

I can just about find my way round the maze of buildings in daylight but after dark it's impossible. This year I'm surprised to find a whole group of rooms I've never seen before.

It's easy to spot the parents who've not been through this before - they're mentally armed with "Your Guide To Finding Out All You Need To Know About Secondary Schools".

The teachers are being grilled but smile and look charming. The head wears his public face and makes sure he calls as many parents by name as he can remember.

The most cherubic pupils are on public display and some of the rest have come anyway, in pie-frill skirts and Saturday night make-up.

Christopher is busy friend-spotting and the other two have disappeared to look cool with their contemporaries, so we don't get away until the all-singing, all-dancing display winds down and all the prospects are taken home.

Thursday: Christopher is grumpy after his late night. Junior school feels like an amateur performance after his exposure to the big-time.

He seems to have spent the day sorting out his future with his friends, so that's it. At least they know where they're going next year. After all, what have his parents got to do with it?

Friday: "Dear Parents, We are holding an open evening to enable you to talk to us and view the excellent facilities we can offerI" Oh no, not another "essential viewing" to confuse us even more. I can't take the pace. I think I'd like to emigrate until the season closes.

Rosemary Baxter is a part-time teacher and home tutor in Surrey.

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