“Exam time”…. it may feel like a long way off, but how you think about it, may influence how you navigate the year…
At the end of last year, as I was driving the kids to school, the fluid happy banter and bickering, was not there. Instead of the usual silliness that made each other laugh, the air was pricked with anxiety.
You see on this day, it was our eldest child’s first finals exam. She had worked so hard all year and this day represented so much - for her and for us.
Gentle prods, escalated into personal attacks. And before I knew it, the car had become a metal capsule of talons and gnashing teeth, somehow representing the stress of the year that had been – for her and for us.
It was not just the long hours of study, but as much the endless cups of tea delivered, the crazy family schedule and the emotional the highs and lows.
But let us stop for a moment and ponder … who and what is exam time really about? Is it really ALL about our children, meeting the test of the rest of their lives? Or is it as much about ALL of us facing the passing of time, the grief that comes with that, and our growing responsibilities in the world?
Resilience develops from facing up to life … and it’s not all pretty!
As we enter a new school year, I wonder whether we are doing society a disservice in going to enormous efforts to support our children to succeed?
Whether in kindergarten, beginning year 7 or entering university – in these efforts are we essentially shielding our children from life, depriving them from experience, from facing challenges, from growing up and developing the resilience to meet the rest of their lives?
You see, also coinciding on the week of my daughter’s exams, a close family member had died. Tensions were high and so were emotions. Work had to get done, meals needed to be prepared and it was time for a date with my husband ... regardless of her exams, life needed to continue.
Despite the less than ideal car trip, we all learned lessons that day… I learned, yet again, that even though I had not demonstrated my best parenting skills on the way to the exam, I was still a good enough parent. Our adolescent daughter learned that she had the capacity within to find focus, even in amongst turmoil.
Six weeks later, when the exam results came in, our daughter also learned that hard work pays off – her exam results were excellent.
(Specialising in working with through life transitions, Sarah Sacks, works from her practice The Grove Counselling, located in the Melbourne bayside suburb of St Kilda East .)
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