GOOD LUCK to all you parents out there trying to manage your children’s exam stress. I don’t seem to be able to get this exam stress stuff under control in our house – my children either have exam stress in exceptionally large doses or not nearly enough of it. Shame you can’t pick it off the one that has too much, like cotton wool and stuff it in your horizontal child’s mouth, nose and ears to get the balance right. Parents are either required to mop brows and pick up sobbing children outside school after the exam disaster of the century or we are trying to find ways to stick a piece of dynamite up another child’s arse. Not sure how I have managed to produce children that exist at each end of the stress spectrum, but it’s at times like this that certainly demonstrates how individual each child can be. I guess, it’s at times like these that we have to recognise that there is in fact no “normal”, that every child learns and behaves differently and it is no wonder that there isn’t a definitive book out there to tell us how to do it. Raising children is an art (sort of) and not a science and the only thing I can do is be as supportive as possible and drink wine and breathe.
This is the first year for ages that I don’t have a child living at home, doing significant exams. My firstborn son is currently doing his finals at uni and they could quite possibly be the biggest exams of his entire life – but I haven’t been able to help him at all (OMG he can’t have finished already can he??). All I can offer him are a few supportive text messages from time to time and an occasional (frozen) food parcel (from the local “Cook”). My daughter also has exams at uni, but again, I can’t soothe her brow or bake cakes (which to be honest I was never very good at anyway so I’m sure she’s not missing my support).
I don’t ever recall my parents having exam stress and I’m pretty sure they didn’t really have a clue what subjects I was doing…until I failed most of them. Why are we so obsessed with our children’s exams? Of course we want to help, but the levels of involvement, tutors, after school clubs, cajoling, persuading, nagging that we seem to have to do these days is really not at all healthy and I’m sure is contributing to why our children are more stressed than ever. My mother always says “you can’t teach an unhappy child anything” and she’s right. Having a happy childhood is crucial – have we gone mad with all this testing they have to do these days?