Cliff jumping

jump

I am about to do something insane. In two weeks’ time I have chosen to stop doing something I love and start doing something that I have yet to learn very much about.

So why on earth am I doing it?

For the past year I have been working in a secondary school, supporting students academically who are not in lessons. I arrived at the job after teaching in a prison. In prison I had discovered how much I love working alongside individuals with behaviour we call “challenging.”

It has not been an easy role. I calculate that probably once a fortnight something or someone makes me emotional to the point of tears. Sometimes it’s a privileged/horrifying glimpse into an individual’s circumstances – I thought prison had made me unshockable, but these are kids – or it’s occasions such as the morning after a young student had told me to f*** off, when he brought me a new poster he had made.

His poster said, “Sorry Mrs Lafosse” across the top and the name of the room where I teach, in different colours. In the corner, he’d drawn a bright yellow sun, inside which he’d written the word ‘Happy’ in purple pen.

“What does that mean?” I asked. “Are you saying you’re happy when the sun shines?”

“No,” he said. “It’s because that’s how I feel when I’m in this room.”

Gulp.

This is a boy totally without guile, who has seen more than any child should have done. He struggles with his temper. I told him I loved it, then bustled him off to his next lesson as quickly as I could. A tearful teacher rather loses authority.

The thing is, I’m not a teacher. I have huge admiration for my colleagues who manage large classes and have to account for the regular progress of hundreds of students. I teach small groups and one-to-one and the aspect of this I find most fascinating and rewarding is when a light bulb goes on and I can see how that person ticks, what motivates them, the way experiences affect their attitude to the world in general, and to learning in particular. I love them all and particularly those that push me. I suppose because it’s obvious they’re the ones that need it most.

So why am I leaving? I supposed the answer is tied up in the reason as to why am I doing a job for which I am patently untrained in the first place. I have a French degree and my “career” pre-children was in sales and language work, for crying out loud. I guess the answer is I would never have ended up doing this work if Juliette had not died, and the reason I’m leaving it is the same.

Call it courage or recklessness, but I am acutely aware that life is too short to wonder if you might have been good at something, or whether you should have tried a different path. Degrees of fear used to control my decisions, but when my own child has faced death itself, how can I find excuses to lurk in my comfort zone?

Almost twelve years after I lost my beloved girl I’m about to begin four years of study. A one year MSc in Psychology at the University of Essex, followed by three in London on an Educational Psychology course – if I’m lucky enough to get a place – and I’m going to work bloody hard to make sure I will. I am scared – this is Science, and my brain embraces literary flights of fancy, not cold, hard facts and numbers. That challenge thrills me.

It’s not exactly leaping off a cliff with a dodgy parachute but to someone as naturally cautious as me, it is a risk. However not taking a risk feels like deciding not to live, and deciding not to live when Juliette was denied the chance, feels like letting her down. Twelve, ten, even eight years ago, I wanted to curl into a ball and admit that Juliette’s death had defeated me. Now, I won’t let it. I am changed because she died, and I’m pretty sure that somewhere she is proud of me.

 

21 thoughts on “Cliff jumping

  1. Good for you seems inadequate but that’s what I want to say. In many aspects, decisions are much clearer now & almost easier to make. You’re embarking on a degree course, we’ve bought an old house & 8 acres. Lots Of new & exciting challenges & things to learn, bring on the madness xxxxx

    Reply
  2. Go for it Geves. You can always see how first year goes… Juliette would be very proud of her working mama! Much love Sx

    Reply
  3. Good for you Geves. That’s fantastic. Juliette would be very proud of her mummy as I expect all of your children are. You are an inspiration to us all. Bet Juliette is smiling down on you now with that cheeky grin xxxxxx lots of love Pauline

    Reply
  4. Geves it has been my very great pleasure to work with you this past year, you will leave a huge hole that will not be easily filled. I think you are amazingly brave to try something new and I’m sure your daughter would be proud of her clever caring mummy. Xxx

    Reply
  5. The Geves I’ve known for the last few years has always struck me as incredibly brave and committed. I am in awe of the way you have embraced new challenges. I am sure that the next few years are going to be a great adventure. I wish you all the luck in the world!

    Reply
  6. I’ve been proud of you forever but this takes things up a notch. Let me know if you need any help with some new brown cordrouy loafers for your first day of class. Love you G xx

    Reply
  7. I think it’s amazing what you’ve done and achieved, it was brave but really paid off, and I know this new adventure will too. lots of love xxx

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s