"Hug your dad, play nice with your sister, and don’t worry about being bottom of the class"
I’m writing to you from 43 years into the future on something called a laptop. Never mind. I just wanted to tell you a few things. First of all, go and find Dad and give him a massive hug. You know that box by the front door? It’s full of books and within a year or two, you’ll have read them all. You’ll be addicted to them. You’re going to spend most of your pocket money on more of them and eventually you’ll love reading so much, you’ll study it at university. All because Dad passed a charity shop yesterday and saw a whole pile of Enid Blytons.
Don’t worry about coming 30th out of 31st in your class. You’re only six. I know you think it’s a good thing because 30 is a big number, but actually, you’re near the bottom. Never mind. By the time you’re ten, you’ll be on the top table with Debbie, I promise. You’ve not met her yet – you’re going to move schools. But she’ll be your friend and the two of you will sit at the top of the class for a whole year, watching Mr Chaffer pinch poor Ian’s ears and throw board rubbers at him.
Carry on playing all those card games with Mum – they’re helping you with your maths. That’s why she gets you to add up the shopping and pretends she might not have enough money. Well, she doesn’t have enough money yet. But by the time you’re 14, you’ll be going on skiing holidays. Really.
The next time your little sister, Colette, pulls your hair, tell her that in 43 years’ time, you’ll be mopping up her vodka vomit and showering her, so she’d better think on. And hide your gold ring – next year she’s going to throw it out of the bedroom window and you’ll never see it again.
When you’re arguing about which Charlie’s Angel you are, let her be Jaclyn Smith if she wants – it’s no big deal. Your little sister will be your best friend forever and your children will be great friends too. Keep on playing pretend schools. You’re going to be a teacher one day and it’s good practice.
Now, the thing is, you’re a bit of a daydreamer. You’re going to have to get through exams on little effort because you go off into a fantasy world every time you open your exercise books. By the time you’re 16 you’ll be too caught up with boys to care about tests. Maybe you can change that and get all As – you’re not going to meet anyone worth the hassle until you’re 30 anyway, so you might as well study.
You’ll never experience the pressure of expectation that your children experience. Never lose sleep over a test like they do. You’ll be able to afford a nice house, live a good life on a teacher’s wage. You won’t have to pay tuition fees, you’ll get help with your student housing costs. Never forget that when people go on about the ‘snowflake generation’.
When you’re a teacher, being 30th out of 31 will be one of the most important things that ever happened to you. It will shape how you see children. It will raise your expectation that they can make their way to the top. It reminds you of the role that parents play in their child’s education. And that box of books? That will be passed on, metaphorically speaking, for the rest of your life. Getting children to love reading will be a big part of who you are.
So get behind the sofa and open Five on a Treasure Island. Your future is now in your hands.
Debra Kidd is a teacher, teacher trainer and author. Follow her on Twitter at @debrakidd.