This morning as I pottered around my kitchen rearranging the debris, I noticed several children wandering by, after 9.00am, not looking like they were hurrying to school. First two girls walked by both eating some kind of bright yellow candy. Next a boy cycled by then stopped to untangle his shoelace from his chain. A few minutes later a lone boy ambled by peering around as if looking for some company. I would estimate all of these to be between 12 and 16 years old.

Although it is none of my business, it has piqued my curiosity! I know it is not a holiday because both my children have gone to school. Have they complained to their working parents that they are not feeling well, then when the house has emptied, got up and gone out to look for some fun? That’s what I used to do.

I was younger at the time, 10 or 11, but there was a period when I was a child in South Africa, and I would regularly complain to my mother of stomach pains in the morning then once she had gone to work, laze around the garden all day. My school was only two blocks away so my friends would come and hang out with me at lunchtime. I took care not to leave the property before school hours were done.

So I’m not much of an example. I am lucky that my two are both in their own different ways motivated to get something from their time at school, even though they don’t like it very much. So once in a while I will give them the day off, knowing full well that they are not really that unwell. I like to think that they are proactive enough when they are at school to justify this. Certainly my daughters GCSE results last year bear that out.

It is one of the benefits of being self-employed, that as long as the job gets done well and in time, it doesn’t matter how or when. If we can instil in our children a healthy desire to ‘get the job done’, and trust them to manage their time accordingly, I believe they will reward our faith in them.

But as I mentioned before, I am one of the lucky parents. I cannot imagine what I would do if a child of mine consistently missed school. I want to say I would talk to them and explain the importance of education and the work ethic. But it is in the nature of teenagers to have a dwindling interest in their parents opinions. It often seems as if they are hot-wired to directly oppose them.

What children, indeed all of us, need is inspiration. It is easy to point the finger at poor schools and lacklustre teaching, and this is a real problem. More difficult is for parents to accept fully the responsibility they have, almost from birth, to stimulate and feed their children’s inherent curiosity.  In our present day world of working parents, this is not easy. TV, internet and digital games only require passive involvement, and are no substitute for time spent with your mum or dad.

Still it is never too late. With enough care and attention, the most seemingly disaffected can be sufficiently encouraged to take pride in themselves and their achievements. No single person wants to let themselves down.

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