Saturday, 2 March 2013

Competitions, interviews, exams and auditions

Much stress in the Little House these last two weeks as three of the family took on nerve-racking challenges.  There is, of course, some unwritten law that all these events should conspire to occur during the same 14 day period. Although I was the only member of the family not about to have some sort of test or interview, as wife and mother (aka chief family administrator) I was required to help calm nerves, assist in preparation, provide moral-boosting pep talks and if that didn't work, a comforting hug.

Cooking in wellies; a practical solution
Little S wanted to enter the village cake decorating competition.  You might be forgiven for thinking that this doesn't sound remotely stressful at all and the level of competition distinctly parochial.  But reader, you would be wrong.  Small places breed intense competition and rivalry between families is inter-generational!  S loves baking and her favourite tv programme is Cake Boss; consequently, she had a very ambitious idea of creating a sunset over the sea in coloured icing and tiny edible orange balls.

I thought at one point that the kitchen floor may end up with more icing on it than the cake and the bright blue colouring was smeared across her cheeks like some kind of banshee face-painting. The cake was delightful but the mess was of the 'go and lie down in a dark room' variety. Sadly, it didn't win but S coped with the disappointment well and even managed to congratulate the winner.

The Sunset Cake

On a more countrywide level H auditioned for the National Youth Theatre.  I was full of pride that she could even contemplate standing on a stage in front of strangers without being sick but, not only did she deliver her monologue word perfect, she also managed to complete, and enjoy  the three hour workshop (code for more auditions).  I would be over the moon if she got in but I am also a realist and know that the statistics make it a very slim chance indeed. We will have to wait a further six weeks before we find out.
Fabbydoo wanted to be in the audition head shot too
All the while this drama was unfolding, L was facing a round of gruelling interviews for a new job.  In this economic climate employers are decidedly picky and seem intent on making the selection process full of herculean tasks.  There was the telephone interview, the regional interview with manager, a further telephone interview with director and then the final challenge - the interview day  miles away at Head Office complete with panel interviews and the 'presentation'.  Like me, L leaves time-consuming tasks to the last minute and that was how it was that  at 11 o'clock at night we were still 'tweaking' his PowerPoint and trying to make it work on a mac.  
(Image: blogs.oregon

As these busy weeks played out and the anxiety increased, I tried to analyse what it was exactly that makes being on the sidelines so stomach churning. I decided that despite what anyone may say about how challenges are character building, I think it would be hard to find a parent who wanted life to be difficult for their child. Competition makes us vulnerable; we open up ourselves to be judged and risk the hurt and disappointment if we don't quite make the grade. When our children or partners go through this process we feel judged as well and share their feelings in some strange love-tied symbiosis.  We question ourselves - How can we help? Have we done enough? Will they manage?  I guess the answer lies in developing that all important life skill - resilience. The dictionary defines resilience as the capacity to adjust, withstand and recover from stress or adversity. It does not say anything about shielding or protecting from stress and disappointment, no matter how much our instinct tells us to do so. And to teach resilience we need lots of it ourselves.  I think this is something I definitely need to work on but for now I'm going to celebrate with some champagne and some of that tongue-staining cake as L got the job!  I'm sure he will need lots of resilience to cope with the challenges a new job brings but that's to worry about another day.

Our collection of celebratory corks!


  1. Congratulations! Enjoy the champagne and I bet the cake is really tasty! Julie x

  2. Crikey, it's a bit exciting up in your world at the moment!
    Congratulations indeed.
    Thank you so much for visiting rusty duck today and leading me here. I love Scotland, where you live sounds absolutely delightful. Jx

    1. Thank you and looking forward to visiting you again soon in blogland. I do love the rusty ducks by the way!

  3. Blimey what a fortnight! I love that your daughter seems to be making a cake in her Wellies lol! Just discovered your blog - look forward to reading more :)

  4. What a busy household, but its great to have so many interests at one time! Congrats on the new job, good luck on the auditions and the cake looks beautiful!