March is a month I’ve always had mixed feelings about. In my childhood it meant returning to boarding school–an end to the long, celebratory, indulgent winter vacation. Back to the rigours of routine, the claustrophobia of a disciplined life. But also the joy of the company of friends and the security of structured activity. And the excitement of proving yourself in class.
A thought just occurred to me. Who came up with the idea of boarding schools? I have never really tried to find out. Perhaps now I will. It seems a contradiction to the whole idea of family, of parents nurturing children, of cementing bonds that will last for a life time.
There are situations, I admit, when such institutions have their uses. In my case it was my parents’ eagerness to seek a higher quality of education for me than was available in our home town. They did their best for me, but as happens so often in real life–the gap between expectation and fulfilment remained. As one of my favourite poets Robert Burns said:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
My stubborn, essential self asserted itself. I didn’t take up any profession that would justify the expense my education demanded from my parents. I guess deep down I knew myself, even at that unformed age. I knew I was not cut out to be a doctor or a bureaucrat. It was the allure of losing myself in a maze of words that was irresistible. But the seeds of this too, were sown by my parents and took sturdy root in school with the help of encouraging teachers.
I never sent my own children to boarding school. Living in a metropolitan city, I didn’t need to. Also, motherhood was an extremely serious career for me.
In the end, who knows what’s best for children? There are so many things that will remain out of our control. In the end, we all find ourselves, one hopes.