The double whammy has arrived. GCSEs have started and A Levels are hot on their heels. And maybe this is a bit back to front in a parenting type post, but I have been thinking about how us parents deal with the exam period.
Parenting like many situations in life has a disarming way of showing you both sides of the story. As my kids have prepared for their exams, I have recalled all too well the drudgery of revision, the feeling that you want to go out and do anything but revise.
Guiltily, I remember putting in “several hours of revision” staring at my bedroom wall, thumbing through magazines, listening to music…I really hope my mum isn’t reading this… and this isn’t what my kids have been doing. Anything was more appealing at times than actually learning endless facts, figures and equations.
Now, the shoe is definitely on the other foot. I am the parent. I am the mother. I’ve been there, done that, I have experience and wisdom. But empathy doesn’t help here; it is not welcomed. My kids unequivocally have no interest in the fact that their parents have been through what they are going through.
So as a parent how do we deal with the revision and exam period? I know we are not taking the exams, but there is a “no fun” vibe that has permeated the atmosphere in my home, I’m guessing it’s the same for you? It is hard from this side of the fence. Letting go, standing by, watching as life unfolds in front of you is like a crazy slow motion film, which you cannot control, but you desperately hope will turn out well.
So here are a few things I do to get by:
- Food. Maybe it is the woman in me, or the mother, or the very dominant Indian genes but food is vital. Cooking for my kids – so I feel I am being of some use and they are for the most part eating well. Food also serves as a kind of therapy for me; cooking from scratch takes time and I find it oddly relaxing…and I love to eat.
- Being busy. I am pretty busy anyway, but during this period it is even more important. I need my brain to be well and truly occupied and challenged. I feel very grateful that at the moment my time is being snaffled up with this blog and three music projects on the go.
- Avoid school coffee mornings. I’m not an anti social wotsit, I love meeting up with friends, although I would always choose alcohol over coffee. The people (women), I’m trying to avoid talk incessantly about how much work their children have done and whip everyone in the surrounding area into a frenzied state. This is a whirlpool you cannot escape if you are in the vicinity, so do like me, avoid it.
- Be around but be invisible. It is impossible not to care, worry and wonder how your kids’ exams are going and how they are. So I find just “being around” when I can quite effective. My study is the basement and the kitchen is above me…so when I hear someone rummaging around in the fridge I realize I need a cup of tea. My teenagers might not always say anything, but they might. They can chat or vent if they need to and I feel part of what they are going through. Momentarily it eases my latent stress.
Exams are part of the education system, so we all have to get on with it, we know this, but it really is no fun for any of us. Roll on the summer holidays, I say. What do you think?