Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Education is such a pain in the back

St Stephen’s Green is a brilliant location to observe the world in all its rich diversity. Precise public servants stride purposefully towards their desks secure in the knowledge that the world is in perfect order. Slightly harassed working mothers scurry to their offices having fed, clothed and cherished their mites and despatched them to school with a good breakfast and a list of instructions to sustain them until they rendezvous. iPod-ladden young men place sell notes on international securities whilst sipping a skinny mocha and draw on a pre-labour nicotine fix. Young students lop reluctantly to their 9 o’clock lectures establishing in their own minds that they have nailed (a) the current fashion dictates (b) the Premiership results (c) The Frames’ most recent set list ; Reassuring themselves in the process that they won’t be a social pariah today at least. Nervous interviewees pace the perimeter rehearsing stock answers and while away 10 minutes so that they can arrive on time.

This morning another young commuter caught my eye. By her uniform she was bound for Loretto College and a life of promise fulfilled. Hence she must be at least four years of age but for her uniform, the tiny frame would suggest 2-3. (I’ve a young niece of three and of average height who would tower over this young scholar.) Perhaps she is one of those child prodigies you hear about – playing the piano at six and the viola at eighteen months. No doubt she is on her way to an early morning class in ancient Greek or a short tutorial on differential calculus. Whatever her intellectual challenge, this young academic trudged – for there can be no other verb more appropriate – gamely across the Green carrying on her back an enormous rucksack. This wasn’t your ordinary jansport one-size-fits-all, this seemed to have purpose-built extensions and probably requires planning permission in some EU states. It seemed filled to near bursting point and I hope, for her sake, that Loretto College’s junior infants are doing a once-off project involving large amounts of low density polystyrene foam. Her wee shoulder blades struggled to maintain their natural contours as she hauled – for there can be no other verb more appropriate – her load to school. Alongside her, in her Prince of Wales check suit and unfeasibly high heels, tottered Mummy. Resplendent in her Newbridge jewellery fashioned by Paul Costello from the remnants of a would-be fish knife, by contrast she carried a dainty Prada handbag. Actually when I say carried, she more swung it gaily around her little finger, cruelly highlighting the absence of weight to her heavily laden daughter.

I was nearly stopped in my tracks by this vision and I wanted to scream at the top of my voice, “Put down that miniature Motorola for a moment and look at what your daughter is struggling with! For the love of God, woman, do you want your child deformed before she is six? I doubt if slave labour in the most oppressive Indonesian sweat shop work their girls so hard! Take those pathetic excuses for earrings off and listen to your flesh and blood exhale her last breath!

But I didn’t, I just smiled a hello (I’ve taken Kaz’s advice to heart and it’s paying dividends) and wondered how many slide rules could you really fit into a Prada mini.

(Red Mum has a photo of St Stephen's Green that I love. I don't know what the etiquette for using other people's images, so I'll send you to her Flickr http://flickr.com/photos/redmum/sets/663106/)


Blogger JL Pagano said...

Brilliantly painted picture. I can almost hear the click of the mother's heels. Well done Paige indeed.

10:18 a.m., January 10, 2006  
Blogger Steven said...

Excellent post.

Pity about the poor kid.

10:24 a.m., January 10, 2006  
Anonymous Claire said...

Ahh, I thought we were further away from New York style kindergartens and "Baby Ivys". It would seem not.

Nice post Paige.

12:16 p.m., January 12, 2006  
Blogger Fi said...

Great imagery Paige! And I love that RM photo too!

1:20 p.m., January 12, 2006  

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