Julie is preparing for sixth form: she is already getting up very early in the morning to make sure she can cope when school actually starts at the end of the week. There is no more uniform for her, which she finds exciting but also unnerving. It is the social world of the sixth form that worries her most: navigating the mysterious codes, signals and taboos of ordinary teenage life. The study itself worries her much less now that she has managed to finish one set of public exams. She will have extra support, but the chances are there may still be a few of the usual alarms and excursions (mostly to A&E) while she settles in.
Sometimes a friend or colleague with a daughter of roughly the same age as Julie lets slip some achievement: completing their grade 8 on an instrument, competing at national level in their sport, winning a scholarship to a top university. I seem to have friends and colleagues with some incredibly high-achieving daughters! This did hurt at one time – Julie had also been successful in everything she touched, until she became ill in her mid teens and all these things dropped by the wayside. I did once feel the loss of my golden girl. But I can honestly say that it doesn’t matter at all now: we have been through so much, and I am just glad to have her alive and out of hospital. I love to hear of the achievements of the children of my friends, and I don’t grudge them their successes. Julie has had her own (private) triumphs over her illness.