Actually, of course, I’d already had the idea for Life on the Edge of the Cliff in my head for several months. Pretty much, in fact, from the time I woke up to the fact that my daughter would be finishing school in exactly a year’s time and it was abundantly clear neither college nor employment would be the right destination for her at that point.
Not never. Just not yet.
The surprise was how little information there seemed to be about how we could keep her motivated, positive, and focused on building an independent and successful life once she wasn’t in the school system any more. And realising that if we failed her – through ignorance, inability or just plain human fallibility – there really didn’t seem to be a safety net.
I needed to find out for myself what was out there. I wanted to talk to other people in the same situation about their experiences, and share their stories. And I wanted to look at how other countries tackle the same issues. Are we really prepared to carry the social and economic burden of supporting able and intelligent young people throughout their lives, just because the systems we’ve developed don’t or can’t or won’t meet their needs?
That can’t be allowed to happen. Not quietly, at any rate.
I shared my thoughts with as many people as I could track down in my spare time. I buttonholed them at colleagues’ leaving parties. I bribed them to speak to me by buying lunch. I spoke to academics, policy developers, health and education professionals, and other parents. The response was always more or less the same: “This is important, and well worth doing”.
By the time we sat down to that glass of wine, the biggest question for me was how to make it happen.