I stand in the corner of the room with my mum, polystyrene cups in hand, and five minutes late. When we got here we situated ourselves in the corner, hoping to ignore the loud and enthusiastic chatter between parents, children, and tutors. But other than participating there’s not much to do but watch, so I do; listening as people talk openly about their writing, or their book, or their amazing child who’s expected to get all A*s. I turn to face my mum, to ask how she would feel about sneaking out, but she is no longer stood at my side. Instead she is five feet away talking to a tutor. About me.
I stand and watch as my mum sings my praises, presenting me to the tutor as if I am the latest product for sale on the shopping channel. Going through the CV I have been accumulating since birth as if she is listing my features. ‘She comes with her excellent GCSE grades, eldest child syndrome, and on top of that she dances.’ My performance of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ at aged 3 seems irrelevant to the course, so I decide to stop her there.
“She looked so cute in her white leotard, and her fluffy white headb-” my mum starts, inevitably going to begin her pitch as to why my short-lived dance career enforced discipline and determination. And while I understand that she spent time taking me to dance lessons, she also knows that I was reluctant at the best of times, and that I hadn’t danced in years. The tutor glances around the room, searching for someone to help him escape my mum’s conversation.
“I haven’t danced in a while.” I interject, “I spend most of my time reading now.”
“What have you read recently?” the tutor asks, relieved to talk about something familiar.
“Mostly books for my A levels.” I say.
“Yes, she’s a very dedicated student.” my mum adds, “Always studying, and writing. Always jotting down ideas, aren’t you?” I nod at what she is saying and scan the room again. There is a clear path to the snack table, complete with not-yet-stale sandwiches, passable coffee, and lukewarm water- now is my chance. “I’m going to go and get a drink, would either of you like anything?” I ask, beginning to sidestep out of the conversation. My mum declines and turns back to the tutor while I slip away. When at the snack table I mull over my options before deciding on a coffee and half a cheese sandwich. Satisfied, well…as satisfied as you can be after that, I turn back to the room. But this time my mum has disappeared entirely.
The tutor she had been conversing with had clearly made his escape too, as he was now talking to another family. I search the room, weaving my way through the crowd of hopefuls and tutors, hearing snippets of conversation; “- swimming lessons since he was 5-”, “-star pupil really, we couldn’t be prouder.”, “-the best head girl the school has ever had!” But I can’t find her anywhere.
Defeated, I make my way to the snack table, hoping for a clearer vantage point of the room, then I hear my mum’s laugh, the sound is muffled but that’s her! I trace the sound out of the main room and into the hallway. And push open a door to reveal my mum talking, and laughing, with the head of the department.
My mum is sat on the couch, sipping a cup of tea, while sat on two chairs at the side are a father and daughter, they whisper between themselves and as soon as they spot me they take the opportunity to escape. My mum sees me and smiles “We were just talking about you.”
By Sofia Hadley-Johnson