Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is Exam Time More Stressful for Parents or for Children?

The above question is one I have often asked myself over the years as I've dealt with exam-stress fall-out.

Is it my imagination or were we a lot calmer about exams in days gone by?

I don't remember being that stressed about exams. I remember thinking; "Oh crap, I don't know anything. Maybe if I use some big pretentious words it will pull the wool over the examiners eyes?" But I don't remember getting too stressed.

I think my "Big Pretentious Word Theory" must have worked as I passed most of my exams - except Maths. I tried using big pretentious numbers for Maths - but nobody fell for it.

It was only afterwards did I realise the sums were mainly subtractions.

It didn't work in German either. Apparently, the examiner was English and I'd counted on the examiner being German so I suspect my repetitive use of the word "lebensraum" didn't go down too well.

You can't win them all.

Anyway, Master Jacob started his GCSEs yesterday. So, in order to alleviate some of the stress and knowing boys are NEVER prepared, on Saturday I went out and bought new pens, a maths set, a clear plastic pencil case, extra paper, a long ruler, highlighters and a note book.

At 8.45 am this morning (bus leaves at 8.54) this is what happened:

Master Jacob: Have you got a calculator?

Mrs T: (momentarily stunned by this very last minute request) Take the one in Ben's bag!

Master Jacob: (rummages through bag) I can't find it!

Mrs T:  (stomps upstairs and back down) Here, take this new one I bought on special offer a few months ago exactly to pre-empt this situation.

So, the good news is that Master Jacob caught his bus. And I successfully managed to avoid a coronary.


So to answer my question: Is exam time more stressful for parents or children?

The answer is parents, of course.

I shall be picking up Master Jacob later in the day. I will be equipped with handkerchiefs, fizzy drinks, chocolate and a leaflet for The Samaritans in case things haven't gone too well.

It's amazing how many women take up prayer during exam-time. Desperation does strange things to you. I actually have holes in my trousers and, for once, it's nothing to do with my lack of ironing skills.


  1. I never realised that this happened in the Western world too. I thought it was a uniquely Asian, Oriental thing--parents getting tense for exams. Join the club Mrs. T. Been there, done that :-)

    1. I think it does, Sue - but perhaps not as much as other parts of the world. I'm pretty relaxed about it myself - although I do like the boys to get to their exams on time with the right equipment! I wasn't that diligent a student myself so I understand the concept of failure :D


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