It is the last weekend of school and Carter is in the middle of exams. Today was her first one and then two on Monday, and one on Wednesday with a paper due Tuesday. The end of the school year is painful. Kids are so ready to be out, but they have their most important work of the year all crammed into the last few days. I am so ready for school to be over too. I am tired of the routine and want to change things up.
While trying to create a study friendly house right now I am doing all the mundane stuff around here; laundry, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, walking myself, paperwork I should have done months ago. I am trying to get everything ready for the summer, let lose, travel, carefree, Carter goes to camp, not many meetings time. I guess I feel a little guilty about Carter’s studying so I am trying to be equally as productive. I am just glad that I don’t have any exams to take.
The problem is I am not good at staying home more than one day in a row and do house work. Even though I still have multiple baskets of laundry to put away and piles of clothes I’ve weeded out to go to Goodwill and buckets of mail that needs to be dealt with I quickly grow bored with these tasks and look for alternative things to keep me occupied. I know I was this way in school during exam periods.
In college I would invent my best recipes during exams when I should have been reading. I never took as many naps as I did during exams. Suddenly at the end of a semester I would decide that it would be a good time to paste all my green stamps in books as a break from studying. I’m not sure you could call it a break if it took the majority of my time.
I don’t have attention deficit disorder I have deficit interest disorder. I can stay on one task for many hours if I am having fun doing it, but I tire quickly of things that bore me. Being stuck at home doing housework for two days in a row now is making me crazy. Once I have cleaned the stove once I can hardly face it dirty again 24 hours later. I look at the clean dishwasher and wonder, “Didn’t I just clean it out?”
Just a few more days I tell myself and I am not the one taking exams. I know I should not wish this time away because in three short years Carter will be going off to college, but the days are long even though the years are short. So I will do my best to endure the boredom at home so I can create a study friendly house. Lord knows I pray that Carter inherited anyone else but my study unfriendly personality.
The holidays officially came to a big time pause today. This is exam week for Carter. She may only be a freshman but now-a-days even freshman year counts towards getting into college. It stinks. No parties or fun, no Christmas music, no celebrations or preparations, except for exams.
Of course the pouring cold rain is adding to the need to be studying feeling in the house. Now I can’t help with any of the studying. The test taking is all up to Carter, but I still feel the need to be around to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Even Russ woke up this morning and told me about a dream he had about having to take the SAT and needing to study math. I am sure that Russ could take the SAT without doing any studying and do quite fine so why he is having the school anxiety dream I am uncertain.
Feeling guilty about doing anything fun while Carter was stuck in her study cave Russ and I went out in the cold wet day to do the one thing that she did not want to so, to look at new washers and dryers. I was using this trip to Home Depot as a covert way to get my steps in since I was not going to walk the neighborhood and get soaking wet.
Researching washer and dryers is a horrible job. Yes we have Consumer Reports and all the tools the Internet has to overwhelm us with, but until you throw a really soiled towel in a machine and pull it from a dryer you have no idea if the duo you have chosen is a match made in heaven.
I have been thinking about a new washer and dryer for a long time. When front loaders first came out and were considered practically sexy Carter was about seven. One evening when Russ was on a business trip to China Carter and I went to the mall for dinner. We strolled through Sears on our way back to our car and lingered in the appliance department looking at the cherry red washer and dryer combos on their pedestal drawer units. A bored salesman, thrilled with a potential customer in the empty store quickly asked us if we were looking to buy. Carter in a very grown up way responded, “No, we are just dreaming.”
Eight years later I am still looking at washers, but with a little more urgency. I am less interested in the front loaders now that top loaders have gotten the center agitator removed, but I just don’t know. How much can one person read about machines? It seems like my exam schedule is to learn all I can about the market and make a decision for once and for all.
When Russ and I got home Carter decided it was a good time for us to have a really good mother daughter talk about all things non-exam related. Her procrastination may be fun for me but I eventually had to cut off the heart-felt talk and suggest she go back to the books. I still had load size specifications to review. I hate that exams ruin this week before Christmas.
It is almost the end of the school year for Carter. She is about to close out her middle school career and move into the pro-league of upper school, but before she can do that she must complete her final exams. Now 8th grade exams need to be taken with a grain of salt because they do not count on your “Permanent Record,” yet in the world of competitive school it does not feel that way.
Middle school exams are really just a practice session for what high school exams will be. Can you memorize, synthesize, regurgitate, postulate and reiterate a year’s worth of learning? I think the thought of the exams are worse than the actual exams themselves, but that is easy for a woman who has not taken anything more than an eye exam in the last thirty years to say.
I love the idea of learning something new, but hate the concept of being quizzed on it. At this point in life I would not make a good traditional student. I am curious and don’t always want to follow the path of learning an instructor wants to send me down. I come up with questions and theories that I want to discuss when I think of them, not when the teacher wants to teach them. I am sure teachers all around me are as glad as I am that I am not in their course.
The idea of my having to take an exam is horrible, but that does not mean I am not interested in Carter doing well on her exams. I have empathy, but expectations. All that being said, I have to just assume that Carter is studying the right material, using her time wisely, reading the questions thoroughly and is preparing the best she can. I have been fairly hands off this school years so she can learn how to handle upper school on her own.
As her Mom my job is to make sure she has nourishing food, a quite house, and sleep. Somehow I still am feeling the pressure of exams and am ready for it to be over. It may only be semi-hell for Carter since it is middle school, which means it should only be semi-semi hell for me, but I am really not used to any Hell. I am ready summer vacation.
As an over half century old person it has been a long, I mean more than half my life long time since I had to take a mid term or final exam. The only exam I take now is my annual GYN exam and that is fraught with it’s own peril, but I digress.
I don’t remember having exams in junior high school, as middle school was called back in the olden days. I must have started in high school. So for those four years and the four of college, I took exams. It was probably more like three and a half in college because I am certain second semester senior year I did not take anything that required a test, let alone an exam. So for seven and a half years of my 51 and a half I took exams. That is only about 15% of my life and it happened over 30 years ago.
Now that we have explored the numbers I pose a question. Why does my 8th grade daughter studying for mid-term exams bring up a strong anxiety in me, which requires chocolate to placate, based on past experiences?
I am not taking any exams. My child is not terribly worried about the exams. She has not requested chocolate. I have successfully avoided all chocolate for the last eight months except for the tiny amount sprinkled on my every other week skinny latte at Starbucks.
What is it about certain feelings that we associate with food? You know, movies and popcorn is the easiest one to identify, but there is baseball and hotdogs, Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie, birthdays and cake and ice cream.
Back in the day I remember when the only time we ever had cake and ice cream was at a birthday party. Once when Carter was about three I told her we were having a party. She looked around the kitchen and asked, “Where is the cake?” I said, “Cake? We aren’t having any cake.” She cocked her head and replied, “You said we were having a party.”
I guess that my few years of studying for exams were enough to ingrain in me the feeling that I needed chocolate to survive. Now logically I know I will be OK, but I really don’t need to have this added desire for a sweet on top of all the Christmas food around. I walked into a Christmas party this afternoon at the home of a great local chef. There was a platter of the best looking sweet treats that almost brought me to my knees. I hugged the host and hostess and made a beeline for the door.
Back at exam central things are not much better. As soon as I post this blog I am going to get right to needle pointing, something that keeps my hands too busy to reach for something to eat. Two and a half days and this exam period will be history.