So the Easter holidays are over and everyone has gone back to school. As usual, I check over the diary for the coming weeks to see what I need to be preparing for. A new word is featuring on my calendar – one that I haven’t really given much thought to since 1989 – examinations.
Of course we’ve done exams already. Oodles of dance ones, a bunch of music ones and even a couple of swimming tests. But formal exams that require real revision? This is a first.
Eldest child, she who will sit her first tranche of GCSEs in a matter of weeks, seems scarily relaxed about the whole situation. There’s been some indication of awareness over the holidays. New stationery was purchased for example – always a good start in my book. We have a Revision Timetable as well, although I do have to say that it is somewhat rudimentary in comparison to the colour coding with minute by minute precision and running countdown that my own revision timetables were graced with. And there are some handwritten charts appearing on her tastefully decorated bedroom walls.
But as yet we have no sense of any urgency and certainly no tears and sleepless nights. There is no suggestion of sweaty palms or any of the other physical manifestations of stress with which I was all too familiar at this point. Part of me thinks that is a good thing. I would love to believe that the Youth Of Today are far more in control of their own destinies and not about to be spooked by their parents or, heaven forbid, their teachers.
The problem is that I don’t really believe that. I am reminded of a woman about to have her first born. She remains relatively calm about what lies ahead because, as they say, ignorance is bliss. She knows it’s going to be bad because everyone tells her so but in her heart of hearts she can’t believe that it’s really THAT awful and suspects the pain is exaggerated for effect. She only learns the truth when it’s too late to do anything about it! So it is with exams. My child has never sat a school exam before. Other people, mainly me, have talked to her about how hard it is and how important it is to be prepared but she doesn’t really believe it because she has no experience on which to base her views.
This worries me. By the time I reached her stage, I had taken exams in every one one of my subjects at least four times. I knew how to revise and what happened if you didn’t. I could deal with that heart sinking feeling when you open the paper and can’t remember anything. I could sit at a desk for two hours at a time and not let my concentration wander. I was prepared. My child isn’t even really sure what revision is. “Reading through is not revising,” I tell her. “You need to be able to recite the facts as if it were a poem.” I’m not sure she gets it – and why should she. Like a lamb to the slaughter she has no idea of her fate.
So, in the absence of her worrying about it, I have taken it upon myself to worry for her. I am aware that this is a ridiculous strategy but one of us needs to take this seriously! And I might as well get used to it. From this point on my family is likely to have major exams to deal with every June until at least 2025!
PS. Did I mention that I have an exam too? I think I’ll save that for another post.