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Will this Pen Licence Be Valid in High School?

By Yvette Vignando - 27th May 2011

For the last three weeks, Mr 9 has had something on his mind. He wants a licence. Not a driver's licence, nor the pilot's licence that one of his big brothers is craving, but a 'pen licence'. At his primary school, a pen licence is permission from the teacher to use a pen in his school books; this sought-after privilege is granted to children who've been using pencil for three or four years and have developed their handwriting skills to the level required by their classroom teacher. I know our last two boys also received this privilege at some point, and in fact Mr 15 proudly reminded us that he was "the first person in his year to be given a pen licence" (this was nostalgically announced yesterday after ridiculing the excited pen-licence-musings of Mr 9).

But only Mr 9 has talked about the pen licence for hours and days - the older boys definitely didn't crave this rite of passage in the same way. At age 8 or 9, Mr 15 wrote neatly without too much effort, being one of the rare breed of young boys with good fine motor skills from an early age. Mr 13 launched himself confidently into cursive writing in Year 3 but did not (and still does not) give a second thought to whether his writing was legible; I'm unsure how he received his pen licence but it was certainly nothing he aspired to.

So Mr 9's excitement and anticipation about being allowed to use a pen has been lots of fun and very cute to watch. I doubt his lovely teacher has any idea how much Mr 9 is desperate for this inky honour. He missed out last week but he apparently got the hint that he was almost, nearly, any-day-now, going to be licensed to use a pen. And not just any old pen. Mr 9 is planning a special shopping expedition to "the pen section" to buy an appropriately sophisticated and formal implement to celebrate his transition to true penmanship.

And this week has been a little tortuous because the class has been so busy bringing in lamingtons and Anzac biscuits, reciting their recipes and devouring them (a homework activity), that the teacher hasn't had time to check the handwriting test they had. Mr 9 was almost hyperventilating with excitement this morning as he talked about the very strong likelihood of the pen licence being passed his way today. He's quite resilient so he'll probably cope if he isn't licensed by this afternoon, but I'm not sure I will.

The other day at afternoon tea he asked me "Mum, you know how I'm getting my pen licence. Well, when I go to high school will I have to show them the licence to be able to use my pen there or will I need to get a new licence for high school?'

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