Final Exam Week: Harder for Parent than Child

Final Exam Week: Harder for Parent than Child

This past Sunday morning at about 8:00, I was at my neighborhood Starbucks for some weekend fuel.  Nothing unusual about that, although on this particular morning I had my 19-year old in tow as we were taking her back to college after winter break.  She came inside with me to supervise the donut selection.

In front of us in line was an acquaintance who I’ve known for a decade because our kids have gone to the same schools and we have kids whose ages overlap.  She commented that she was picking up some caffeinated drinks for her two high school aged daughters who were studying for finals.  Seriously?  At 8:00 on Sunday morning?  I cringed, imagining my sophomore son comatose probably for the next several hours with me helplessly on the road.  I made a joke about needing a cattle prod, which she seemed to think was funny, even though I was only half joking.  The conversation took an ugly turn when I asked about her senior daughter’s college plans, which (of course) are to study medicine.  I’ve never hurried out of Starbucks so quickly.

I’ve heard that there are teenagers out there who are known as “self starters,” and my eighth grader seems to be one, but that isn’t doing me any good this week: Finals Week.  As a young higher schooler myself back in the day, I can recall one such week when I absolutely rebelled against my parents’ mandate that I study, which I’m sure was infuriating for them (and look at me now- blogging without even being told to!).  I’ve been surprised as an adult to find that Finals Week may actually be more unpleasant for parent than child.

If you are still in a state of ignorant todder, grade school or even ‘tween bliss, let me tell you what you’re in for a few years down the road.

  • Lots of negotiating.  Assuming you don’t have one of those “self starters,” most studying will be done only when the child has been sufficiently incentivized.  Why else would I have played so many games of ping pong the past few days?  It’s been a reward for a good hour of studying (meaning actual studying was occurring).  Attorneys have an advantage in this area.
  • Possible weight gain.  Particularly if you have boys, the incentives are often tied to food.  I am hurrying to write this post because at exactly 8:37 we are heading to McDonalds for some apple pies, the treat of choice.  I’ll do my best to resist those adorable snack sized McFlurries.
  • House arrest.  A friend texted me tonight to see if I wanted to go for a drink Thursday.  Obviously, I do!  But wait, the dreaded Spanish final is Friday.  The grade is already precarious, we’re just trying not to lose too much ground with an abysmal performance on the final exam, and I’m worried the studying won’t happen without aforementioned cattle prodding.
  • Complete silence.  If I walk past the boy’s room and he notices me, he immediately tries to engage me in conversation, which means I can’t go upstairs.  Likewise for noise from the t.v.
  • Extra cooking.  You’ll likely be guilted into cooking decent meals so that you can’t be blamed for low blood sugar ruining an exam performance.
  • Some light accounting.  If your house is like mine, the youngsters will need help with the complex algorithm to determine precisely what grade they need on their final for a particular grade in a class.  There’s a lot of strategy involved in  figuring out where to expend resources.  Sometimes the needed final exam grade is ridiculously high, while at other times they can bomb and still keep the same grade.  In either case, studying drops off precipitously.  And obviously all of the above lead to…
  • Extreme crankiness.  Not on the part of the kids but rather the parents.

Knowing what I was in for this week with children #2 and #3, Sunday night at dinner I declared that I was going to have a beer.  My eighth grader, who is currently in Health class, informed me that alcohol is a poor form of stress relief.  Ugh!

There are some days when I long for poopy diapers and too-short naps.  I've got a few more minutes before we're off to the McDonald's drive-thru.

Filed under: Parenting


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