Posted by: christinelaennec | January 16, 2016

Clearing a major hurdle

I have some excellent news:  the Dafter managed to take her Higher Art prelim!  Because of her illness (which began in August 2011, at the start of S2, the second year of six years of high school in Scotland), she has never before been well enough to sit an exam.  She and I have been working very, very hard over the past month or so to keep her on an even keel.  The past two Januaries have seen her health take a very sharp dive, and we were determined to avoid this happening again.  So we have been taking a number of measures, which I will write about separately.  She has battled various bugs and minor health problems, and kept on going.

During the holidays and over the past ten days, she was able to do some revising, slowly and steadily.  This kind of work has not been possible for her until now, but since the summer her concentration has been slowly improving.

And so it was that yesterday I drove her to school, and although she was nervous, she was well-prepared and collected.  I went home and did the most distracting thing I know, which is to work on my family tree online.  I filled in details of a great-grandmother’s account of leaving Switzerland for America in 1882, and while I kept an eye on my phone, sending silent affirmations that the Dafter would not have a crash, I also was aware of how precious life is, including our tests and trials.

And two hours later the Dafter phoned for a lift home, and was quite stunned, but okay!

Tired but happy, after her exam.  15 January 2016.

Tired but happy, after her exam. 15 January 2016.

She said that after half an hour her concentration went, “and then I was just in robot mode”.  She doesn’t know how she did in terms of what they are looking for or what mark she will get.  But that is far less important than the fact that, never having sat an exam in her life before, she went in, read questions and answered them for over an hour, and didn’t panic or stop.  I really could not be more proud of her.

The “real” exam in May is twice the length, and I’m not sure how well she will be able to manage that.  We shall speak to the school about what can be done to help her get through.  The May exam is set and marked by the national Scottish Qualifications Authority, and is out of the school’s hands, but we shall see.

I observed her closely after we got home.  She was very tired, but wasn’t in a state of collapse.  And after resting in bed for a while, what did she do?  Paint!

While written work is still very challenging for her, her art work is – if I do say so myself – very accomplished and beautiful.  She’s allowing me to share with you the painting she did for me for Christmas:

Painting of Harris sunset by the Dafter.  My Christmas present!

Painting of Harris sunset by the Dafter. My Christmas present!

I have put many, many things off in the last six weeks or so and now I feel I can somewhat gather up the strings of my life again.  The word “relief” doesn’t quite cover how I feel now!  Just profoundly, profoundly, grateful.

I wish you all a good weekend!



  1. I am thrilled for you both. She was in my thoughts yesterday. Love the painting. Hugs to you both.

  2. Oh how I love that smile. And that painting! Big congratulations to a lovely young woman. Much ❤️ from N. Carolina.

  3. That brought tears to my eyes, I was thrilled for you both. The painting is stunning she has a real eye for colour.

  4. Well I am – almost – speechless. What a talent. x

  5. Congratulations to you both! Her painting is lovely!!

  6. What thrilling news – well done Team Dafter! And oh my goodness, that painting is stunning!

  7. So pleased. Beautiful painting too.

  8. Brava to both of you!

  9. Brilliant news, well done! I am sure the school will help with facilitating exams so she can do them, I had such bad anxiety about exams that my school let me do my GCSEs in a separate room, I’d hope that nowadays schools are even more aware of helping students through this.

  10. This is wonderful to hear. Very well done (to you both) for such a tremendous effort! Your daughter’s painting shows great promise: she has a marvellous eye for the subtle colours of the landscape, which are so difficult to capture. I hope we will see more of her work in the future!

  11. Oh fantastic for your daughter on the exam and the painting is absolutely beautiful. Wonderful!!!

  12. Oh, I am so happy for you! The Dafter looks absolutely radiant in her photo above and I am so pleased for her, too. This is wonderful news for everyone. And, her painting is beautiful; how talented. My best wishes to you, Pat xx

  13. Quelle bonne nouvelle ! Bravo à elle … et à vous ! C’est un grand pas de fait ! Profitez bien à présent de ce moment qui s’ouvre devant vous ! Le tableau est très beau. J’aime beaucoup l’harmonie des couleurs. Bien à vous. Annie

  14. Brilliant news indeed. Her painting is exceptional, she really does have talent, no matter the exam results she should always keep painting! x

  15. This is such great news–and wow, her painting is stunning! What an eye. So good to read about her progress. Go Dafter!

  16. I’m so delighted that the Dafter managed this. It’s a real achievement. Well done to her!

  17. I am celebrating with you, Christine, and I admire the lovely painting Dafter gave you for Christmas. May your coming days be filled with more progress and encouragement. xx

  18. that is such a beautiful painting! So pleased for you both about the exam.

  19. Oh this is wonderful news!!! I am so happy for you both!!! Please pass on my congratulations to the Dafter! Such a great milestone. And her painting is just gorgeous!!!!!

  20. How brilliant! Well done to the Dafter, and to you also! Her painting is just beautiful.

  21. So very happy for the Dafter, and the painting is beautiful. Two wonderful gifts!

  22. Christine, what wonderful news! Your daughter looks radiant in yellow and it suits her sunny personality. Her painting for you is very well done and I’m sure it reminds you of some favorite memories. Very happy for you all. Here’s to 2016!

  23. Hooray for the Dafter! That’s so wonderful!

  24. Thank you very much, everyone!

  25. So great that she was able to sit the exam, it must have felt such an accomplishment. The painting has movement and light. Happy for your family.

  26. I’m so happy for you all, Christine! The Dafter is so talented, and she has such a lovely smile! xxx

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