Warning: It’s a long one!
I look at my 12 year old and I love watching him learn, helping him understand, encouraging him to try his best when suddenly, I’m hurled back in my minds eye to being his age.
I remember the influences I had growing up, those who cared, those who didn’t.
I remember mostly draconian teachers, all the school bullies, the countless times I was promised “dad will help you with your maths homework after dinner” just to eat dinner and wait for dad who’d ask “what do you need to do?”
I’d look at him wide-eyed, jubilant!
Finally, some time with dad… just for him to say “work it out yourself.”
Well if I knew how to work it out, I wouldn’t be asking for help now, would I?
And typical teenager me, would say “forget it” and stomp off to my room frustrated with GCSE maths which may as well have been Heiroglyphic writing.
To be honest, I’d probably have understood hieroglyphs better!
In just a few years, my 12 year old will be studying for his GCSE’s. He will be using whatever careers advice services are in place in his school just like I did.
The difference is, he’s going into it sort of knowing what he’d like to do one day and he has a realistic back-up in case he doesn’t make it.
I haven’t pushed him, I just knew if he was going to stand any chance of leaving education with any career goal he needed a lot more positive input than I was ever afforded.
I’ll give you an example of a conversation with him when he was 5:
Son: mummy, I’m going to be a racing driver
Me: (I know how much this costs, God help me) oh right, well you’ll be a really good racing driver if you learn to like the loud engine noises
Son: can I have a quiet engine?
Me: I’m not sure, but if you be really good in school and learn maths and science and design especially, one day you could build one!
Son: I like maths
Me: You certainly didn’t get that from me
A couple of years later…
Son: mum, do you think I could win the Monaco GP?
Me: with the right training and car I probably could! Listen mate, I’m not going to say yes or no because no one knows what the future holds.
Realistically, your fear of loud noises has stopped you practicing in Go-Karts but it’s ok. It doesn’t mean it’s too late. The best advice I can give you is if you want to do something that badly but for whatever reason you can’t? Do the next best thing to it…
Without the financial backing to enrol him into competitions where he could indeed find a way into F1, let’s face it: it’s not going to happen.
But there’s nothing stopping him now, getting good enough grades to progress onto mechanical engineering.
There’s nothing stopping him now to get his head down, and become qualified and experienced enough to apply to F1 teams to become part of their team.
Even if you’re given an apprenticeship or internship that’s a way in where you can be part of something you adore. You may not be the next Sebastian Vettel (his hero) but you could be part of the next generation of F1 in some capacity.
Will you win the Monaco GP?
Maybe not directly, maybe not at all or maybe the next time you’re in Monte Carlo you’ll not be the 7 year old in a taxi with your mum who negotiated with a fabulous taxi driver that was willing to drive the circuit in a possibly-maybe-very-slightlyover-thespeedlimitty way whilst pretending to race and declaring you the winner.
And when you get there, don’t forget your ol’ mum!