Tilly won a ‘Tycoon’ business thing last week, as you may recall.
She wanted to make vintage jewellery. The two friends she went in with wanted to make cakes.
Everyone we know, including us, said that cakes were daft, as they were massive amounts of work, for a small return.
We advised Tilly to go for the business competition alone.
She decided she would go in with her friends and they compromised on doing both. She would make jewellery, they would make cakes.
On Friday at school, it was announced that her group had been one of six picked to receive £100 in seed money to fund their businesses.
We got a letter saying that the money would be distributed on Monday, and that they had until November 4th to pay it back, and if they didn’t pay it back then we, as the parents, would be liable for the money.
We accepted this, but over the weekend realised that there were a few things that worried us.
The money wasn’t being allocated until 7th October, which meant they had less than a month to raise the money.
Our half term week is in the middle of that time, which means there is only three weeks of school time to raise the money.
It transpires that the children are only allowed to sell at break times, which are twenty minutes long – and then for two lunch periods during the entire course of the time, which doesn’t leave them huge opportunities to make the money back.
They are, apparently, allowed to find means of continuing to fund raise in half term, and outside of school.
We weren’t particularly thrilled, as this puts a lot of pressure on them and time is of the essence.
Nobody had bought stock in advance of the decision, because there was no point if you didn’t know you were going to get through to the money round or not.
We talked about it with Tilly, who had chatted with her friends and decided they would give themselves this week to ease into things and prepare. We felt that that would narrow selling time down even further, putting even more pressure on them, and that first to market was best to market.
As the £100 had been guaranteed, we bankrolled Tilly at the weekend to order supplies and buy stock so she could hit the ground running. We didn’t want her to be under pressure in the last few days of selling if they hadn’t hit their target, and we wanted her to be able to balance it with homework and not melt down.
She came home on Monday with the money and spent all evening working really hard making cup cakes, which were supposed to be the responsibility of her friends, and jewellery. We helped her, and she got to bed around midnight.
She got up early to take inventory and bag up and prepare all her stock and went to school.
When she got there, her friends had done nothing.
When she went to sell at break time, apparently she had to have three signatures from staff to allow this to happen. It took ten of a twenty minute break to find people willing to sign it, and then there were no tables available for her to sell things. She ended up wandering round school selling cakes out of a bowl in the ten minutes she had left.
She never took the jewellery out of her bag.
When she got home and told me this I was really, really mad. I was mad with her teachers for being disorganised and letting her down. I was mad with her friends.
I sent a howler of an email to her business studies teacher.
Yesterday, she was at Alton Towers all day for a business studies trip (do not even ask me how I feel about this – just don’t). She had, on my insistence, had words with her friends and told them that she couldn’t carry them, and if they wanted to make and sell cup cakes they needed to get on board, and they needed to sell them yesterday while she was on her trip.
When she got home last night, we were up, making jewellery until midnight. She got up early again to get all her stock ready, and set out.
Her friends had still done nothing.
When she went to sell her things at break time, nobody was expecting her to be ready, and nobody had any money to buy things.
She came home empty handed.
I am afraid that I well and truly lost my temper. I threatened to remove her from the business competition and said a few more choice things.
I am furious because I do not have time to run a jewellery business, which is effectively what I am doing, because she isn’t getting help anywhere else.
I am furious because I feel that everyone is letting her down, particularly her friends.
I am furious because they are hurting my child.
She burst into tears.
So then I was furious that I had upset her.
I had time to go away and think about things and I have had to make some very hard decisions.
I went and found Tilly, and I told her I was sorry, because I had hurt her just as much as those other people I want to break into small pieces, and that isn’t fair.
I told Tilly I was sorry that I was being over controlling, and that I was not trusting her to make her own decisions.
I told her that I was incredibly proud of her because she has coped all week with my rage and their incompetence and she has worked like a dog, even when she has been bone tired and juggling everything else, and she has done me and her dad proud.
I told her that she had already won that competition in my eyes, because she has outperformed everyone already and has been awesome.
I told her that she has been incredibly brave facing up to her friends and trying to, nicely, get them to work with her fairly, and that it wasn’t her fault if they didn’t.
I told her that I was sorry that she would probably lose her friends because of this, and I was sorry that she was finding out that some friends are not really friends at all, and I am sorry that she could not have found this out a little later in life.
I said I was sorry that I had rail roaded her and let my anger get in the way of supporting her properly.
I told her that it doesn’t matter if we have to pay the money back. It’s the least important thing of all, in the grand scheme of things.
Then I told her that because she had showed how grown up she has been over the last week I would let her choose. I could either continue to fight them all to the death, and remove her from the competition, or I could back down, explain to the teacher tomorrow when he calls why I am backing down, and let her sort it out herself.
She chose to sort it out herself.
So I will step out of her way and let her continue growing up beautifully.
Then I rang my mum, and cried all over her – because this has been really hard and I have been such a ragingly stupid arse.
And I will be again.
And I cried a bit about that too.