Category: Exams

It’s exam time. Again.

It’s exam time. Again.

If you’re a somewhat regular reader here you’ll know that exams have a way of bringing out the creative side of H and N. They suddenly remember all their half-done or thought-of-but-never-done projects which must be launched/completed right away. Case in point: Last year N wrote a 5000 word story during her exams.

Here’s what they’ve been up to during this new and exciting exam month.

H found a new hobby

The son has developed a fascination for countries and flags and the wars of the world. So while I am teaching him the Circulatory System he suddenly comes up with ‘Do you know about the Balkan war?’ Or ‘Were you born before the Cold War’. Or while I’m helping him negotiate the Rennaisance Period he’ll suddenly run to the map to check where exactly a country is.

 

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I blew my fuse each time until finally I allowed him to do his own research during his afternoon break. I wonder how he crams in all his course work along with so much not-really-necessary information. I have to admit though that it’s darned interesting.
PS: Did you know El Salvador and Honduras actually had a war over football?

and N has a million things on her mind

The doll needs a new wardrobe. What to do? Clothes have to be made, no? She cannot wear rags till end of exams, right? So she sits chopping up socks and embellishing them with ribbons and sequins to dress up her doll. And there’s nail paint. I smell it even before she opens it, not that she’s making a secret of it anyway. ‘I’m not applying any,’ she explains when I ask her to put it away, ‘just counting.’ And of course periodic nail-paint inventory is so important. Who knows new ones might have been born over night.

Together they have revived their ‘exam’ hobbies

The children have a whole set of hobbies that they indulge in strictly during exams. Top of the list would be cooking – the cake-in-a-cup is an almost daily affair. And of course there’s maggi.

Then there are birthday plans

To have two parties or three, that is the question. ‘We should have one for each of us with our friends, and one with family,’ explains N. The date is still two months away. I have two months to figure out how to bring the number down to one.

Travel plans

are afoot too as we plan our annual summer visit to our hometown. N has made out a meticulous list of things she needs to pack down to her ‘airport look’ without even knowing it’s a thing.

Finally there’s the after exam party

which is being planned since even before the exam time-table was announced. H has invitations from at least two friends and that’s fortunate because N wants to have friends over. Interestingly, the twain just do not mix despite them being in the same class (and section).

All of this would have pretty much driven the old me up the wall but the new me takes it all in her stride. You might find me discussing N’s novel with her or listening to H’s long winding stories of the most vicious wars.

Yup Nirvana, I’m almost there!

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

Technically April is the exam month but actually it’s March that’s the toughest one because anticipation is always worse/better than the real thing. Right? 

All of March we’re making timetables, failing to stick with them (because daily school assignments are still coming in), constantly remaking, readjusting and generally struggling to get through the portion.

However once exams kick off things fall into place.

Contrary to what the children believe, I’d much rather let them play all day than get them to study, I’d much rather they be outdoors than cooped up inside grumpy and grouchy, I’d much rather curl up with a book myself than drive them to theirs.

Not that they’d ever believe it but March really isn’t the easiest of months for any of us.

Couple that with plans of changing houses this year and you’ll know why things have been rather stormy. Like I’ve said before I’m not a great multitasker so managing the children’s exams as well as the nitty-gritties of getting the new house ready, proved a bit much.

So what’s there to be grateful for you might wonder. Lots actually, when one thinks about it.

The new house

It hasn’t been smooth sailing all month – what house can be made without a few upsets? Yet, almost always, rather miraculously, things have set themselves right by the end of each day. There was just one day that I lost sleep and that because I was reading a rather disturbing book, nothing at all to do with either the exams or the house. That’s some thing to be grateful for.

New found independence

I used to have these horrifying visions of sifting through college-level portions of unfamiliar subjects teaching twenty-something H and N. Mercifully that nightmare may just not come true. Thanks to my pre-occupation with the house I have had to leave them to manage their studies on their own and they didn’t disappoint entirely. Each year I see them become just a little bit more independent and that gives me heart.

And camaraderie

In another, rather significant development, they’ve also helped each other out, though those experiments haven’t always been successful. The other day I asked H to help N with something. To his credit the poor boy tried but she kept giggling and refusing to pay attention. I realised it was a bad move when I heard him threatening her with, ‘Tell me or I’ll punch you’ and ‘Tell me or I’ll cut off your hair’ with such vehemence that I had to abandon whatever I was doing and take right over.

Conversations

Exams might be a bit of a trial but I have to admit the one thing I like is that the we’re together more than we are otherwise. You see the contradiction? I want to curl up with my book and not bother about them and yet I love it when we spend time together even though a lot of it involves being driven up the wall.

The thing is exams are a break from the normal school-homework-play-sleep cycle. They’re home more often. We go for walks in the night after we wrap up for the day and we talk.. a lot, about everything under the sun. And I love that.

Acceptance

I’ve sort of made peace with the way they study. I understand that they aren’t anything like my sister and I used to be. I understand that they won’t be glued to their books like we used to be. I’ve come to be grateful for the fact that they aren’t stressed out of their minds. I am also learning to make peace with the idea that perhaps that will affect their scores, but I have to be okay with it.

It’s not an ideal situation but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m just grateful the children have been happy and healthy, the rest, I hope, shall follow.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

Finding Peace this September #GratitudeCircle #MondayMusings

Finding Peace this September #GratitudeCircle #MondayMusings

While August seemed inordinately long, September seems to have rushed past in a blur. August was about struggling to find mental peace, fighting off loneliness and coming to terms with the absence of friends – real as well as virtual. September, happily enough, has been about getting comfortable with myself, learning to look inwards and finding my own peace while being grateful for friends as and when we cross paths.

It wasn’t as if I had a great epiphany. Rather, it was just about lowering my expectations and learning to manage my moods, aided by long chats with my sister and spontaneous meet ups with my SIL.

Oh and also, long long walks.

If August was about finding an indoor exercising routine, September has been about stepping out. An hour spent outdoors walking hard, with the breeze in my face, wiped away all my moodiness. As the weather has become drier, I’ve been stepping out most mornings. Moms standing by the roadside holding onto toddlers, then waving them goodbye as they climbed on their buses, the greenery along the way, groups of morning walkers and the happy sound of senior citizens clapping and practicing laughter therapy have brightened up my day.

Tracking my progress on Google Fit has given me as much happiness as Shylock got counting his gold. Very satisfying, indeed.

September has been a kinder month despite the kids’ exams kicking off, or perhaps because the exams are here. I spent the first half of the month feeling weirdly detached and guilty by turns, that I wasn’t pushing them enough and then I had no time to think at all. Sometimes that is what works best.

The Husband was home for almost a week right before the exams and that helped. I cannot begin to explain how his very presence takes the stress off me. The feeling that I and I alone am not responsible for the children, is one of the most relaxing thoughts.

Also, he is way more of a Tiger Dad than the Tiger Mom I can ever hope to be. When he is around we argue all the time because I feel he pushes the children a little too hard. Our parenting styles are very different. However, the more he is away the more I realise the importance of at least one parent pushing the kids. I don’t need to push myself to push them. When I’m alone, I have a thousand things on my mind, along with their studies, and I feel they tend to slack off.

I realise the husband and I set each other off well, we are a good team. And I’m grateful for his presence as much as there is of it.

October promises to be relaxed and festive.

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Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle and with Corinne’s #MondayMusings.

The exam checklist

The exam checklist

We’re almost done with the children’s exams – three whole weeks of crazy days. Each small windows of free time that I’ve had has been taken up by housework since the maid has been playing hooky since the day before exams. But the mandatory exam-post needs to be done.

You remember the one I did during the last spell ? Well here I am again.

Exams affect different people in different ways.

Each exam time I find my children changing in interesting ways.

This year they turned into authors.

Their creative juices are in full flow. The only catch is those juices are directed in every directions except towards their books. They have both decided that being a writer is their calling after all and have started work on their debut novels. The daughter is writing a book on an Indian girl who strikes up a friendship with an English Girl. She informed me today that she has written 1021 words over the last two days. She just might finish her novel by the time exams are through.

H’s masterpiece looks vaguely like Rick Riordon’s work, only in an Indian context. The Gods and goddesses have names that are part Indian part Australian (since they have Australia as part of their syllabus, in excruciating detail). One of them, I clearly remember, is called Yirdaki,

Meanwhile I have turned into a queen of confiscation.

I have currently, in my possession

Sponge balls – 3 nos
Rubix cube – 1 no
Tub of slime – 1, small
Water colours – 7 bottles
Nail paints – 6 bottles
Toy dinosaurs – 2 nos
Fidget Spinners – 2 nos
Guns – 2nos

I’m fast running out of space to hide away all the confiscated items. And if you’re beginning to feel sorry for the children, Don’t, for toys are mere props to their rich imagination. They are currently in the process of fine-tuning an adventure sport that involves jumping from one bed to the other because the space in between is a volcanic field covered with ‘bubbling lava’ visible of course, to their eyes only. I’m not sure how long their Pepperfry particle board beds will bear the onslaught. The way they jump and clamber, even my grandma’s teak would have groaned and died.

Other things that have kept the twins busy are as follows:

H has discovered a new shop of ‘imported chocolates’ in the neighbourhood (Where on earth do they get their information from?).

Also, as he very proudly informed me, he is fourth in the world in some online game he plays where he, quite darkly, calls himself ‘Death’.

The other day as I settled down with a book he jammed his fist in my armpit. As I straightened after picking up the book I had dropped, he explained, “I read that children resemble their parents in six aspects – colour of hair, colour of eyes, smell of armpit…. (I forget the other three) so I was checking whether the theory was true. He proceeded to thrust his other fist in his own armpit and then sniffed at both his hands, nodding in agreement.

QED

N has found a way to make coloured slime (resulting in a coloured bathroom sink everyday) and is now in the process of adding glitter to it so she can patent her own glitter slime. She got pretty offended when I refused to believe that she could continue to study with ‘full focus’ while kneading that bit of slimy dough.

Even as I write this they’re deep in planning their after-exam social calendar which is chock-a-block with lunches, dinners and rendezvous at Ice Cream parlours.

I’m off then, to sort my TBR list.

Happy days ahead.

Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do

Striking a balance is the hardest thing to do

If you’ve been with me on the blog for a while you’ll know how I have always rued the fact that the twins seem to feel no pressure of exams while I am completely freaking out. The more I worry, the less they seem to think about it.

During their mid-terms in October last year, things got worse than ever. All through those two months (before and during the exams) I was constantly yelling at them and then feeling terribly guilty at the things I had said. We’d reach a stalemate, go through silent spells and then I’d be back trying to appease them, trying to get them to study, only to lose my temper yet again.

The worry about their marks and exams hung like a dead weight on my mind dragging me into the dumps, waking me up at night and keeping me anxious all day. I hated the entire exam system, hated that I had to handle it all alone and hated that I had to put the children through it all. It was  vicious.

All for a class 6 mid-term!

I can see how foolish that was, now. But the thing is, the reaction of a troubled mind is often far from logical. In retrospect I realise it was also partly because I had been struggling with a lot of health issues. That must have contributed to my chaotic mental state.

By the end of exam time I knew just one thing – I never wanted to be in that space again. More importantly, I never wanted to put the children through that. No marks, no awards were worth it.

We talked about it, the children and I. And we promised that at the next exam all of us would work towards keeping our cool, NO MATTER WHAT.

The children call it my Kalinga War, moment 🙂

Yeah Asoka the Great is part of their syllabus this term. So basically, that last exam was a sort of turning point. I made the keep-my-cool promise, even more fervently, to myself. I promised I’d not let the worry of their scores push me to the edge of reason, ever.

I am happy to say, this time round exam time has been relatively peaceful. Nothing much has changed – I still have to push them all the time, they still rush off the moment my attention flags, they’re still playing computer games, watching television, amusing themselves in a hundred different ways and annoying me in a thousand more.

The only thing that has changed is my attitude.

Sometimes the only way to make things better is to change your attitude. Click To Tweet

This doesn’t mean I haven’t lost my temper at all. A leopard takes time to change her spots, right? But I have definitely dissociated myself a little bit and that feeling of panic hasn’t come back.

For that I am grateful.

After years of worrying that the children do not worry enough I can finally see the benefit of it. I never thought I’d say this but here I am feeling grateful that H and N do not panic. A friend, who is a teacher, spoke of kids who threw up constantly, suffered from headaches and body aches or ran a fever throughout the exams – all due to anxiety. And these are kids from class five and six, 11, 12 year olds. I would not wish that upon any child ever.

That said, I have to admit I doubt myself all the time, specially when I see a lot of moms pushing on relentlessly. I know of moms who solve each math problem along with their child. And when I hear of things like this I cannot help but  wonder if it’s just me. If it is I who am at fault, that I don’t have it in me to handle the pressure and then I worry that H and N might suffer because of that. Am I allowing them to slide into mediocrity by letting go? Have I been too hasty in letting go?

I don’t have any answers and so for now I push all these thoughts away. I’ll wait for their results before I make up my mind about anything. If they aren’t radically different from the mid-terms I’m good, or else I’ll need to rethink their study pattern.

However, there’s one thing I’m sure of and that is that I never want to go back to the madness of those anxiety ridden days, for their sake as well as my own. I’d much rather they score less and be happy than top their class but become a bundle of nerves.

And for now I’m enjoying the sense of peace.

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Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle

 

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Freedom

Freedom

Sofia sat crouched at the edge of the cliff, muscles tense, senses alert. A wave of vertigo threatened to drown her and she averted her gaze from the valley below. She forced herself to breathe deeply willing herself to relax, muscle by one tiny muscle. You can do this, she said, slowly, gingerly, stretching out […]