On Sunday, my daughter officially became a member of Oxford University. She did something known as matriculation, which is some silly formality, but not that silly because it's these silly traditions that make Oxford and Cambridge unique.
The process of distancing myself from my eldest daughter has begun, although I've realised that's mostly in physical distance as our family WhatsApp group is more alive than ever. I'm happy that she's loving her freedom, both social and academic. Remember, she's been homeschooled.
I don't wish to take anything away from Maryam's incredible achievement of getting her place, but when she decided just over a year ago that she wanted to do a degree she had two parents, both Oxford grads, coaching her every step of the way. Helping her with her application form, getting her strategy right from choosing her college, to the specific degree (we did something really crafty here), how to prepare for papers, how to prepare for her interview, how to connect with her tutor during the interview, all to increase her chances.
And it worked. I mean, it often does. I have 3 close friends with kids studying at Oxbridge. Two of those friends went to Oxford themselves, both their partners are doctors, the other is an entrepreneur whose wife was a liar, I mean, lawyer at one of the big firms.
Ok, sure, Maryam worked damn hard, but it would be a lie to say she 'deserved' her place. She is mostly the product of privilege, as are most successful kids and she was very lucky, you need that. It wasn't just her, and I often remind her of this.
Parents of many privileged kids have this terrible tendency to talk about their kids as if they succeeded in a vacuum, and that's what's often really wrong. I mean I know some who have almost been handed businesses on a plate yet their parents will go on and on about their children’s business achievements, and the unfair encouragement doesn't do them any good, and it doesn't do good to those listening as they feel like they're a failure in comparison. Give credit, but when it's due.
Listen, success is talent, some help, plenty of hard work, and luck, and if we remind ourselves of this when and if we're successful our noses might be angled a good fifteen degrees lower when we talk and we'd also encourage rather than discourage those we talk to.