Last night, my teenage daughter spread her work out all over our dining room table so she could study. This is nothing new. But, it makes it a little difficult for her father and me to watch anything since our tiny family room is not only adjacent, but connected by a pass-through in the wall between.
This makes my husband frustrated, which is also nothing new.
I see his point. My daughter's bedroom is the largest one in the house, fully equipped with everything said young person might need. It has not one but two desks, arranged in an "L" to facilitate both homework and electronics usage. The surface of these desks is a lovely golden oak, but rarely visible thanks to piles of homework, textbooks, dressage tests, entry forms, concert tickets, photographs, catalogs and magazines. And there's the rub. Her desk might be more conducive to study if it weren't so conducive to every other thing. When she needs to clear her head, it's generally too late to clear the desk.
Consequently, the dining room becomes her study hall.
As I said, I do see my husband's point. But, I support my daughter anyway, because I think studying trumps pretty much anything we might choose to watch. Last night, it was Mr. Selfridge on PBS. We kept the volume down and when one of our pre-show predictions came to pass, we silently fist-bumped rather than exclaim satisfaction out loud. Our proximity meant that any requested study aids were procured in rapid haste. Apparently, AP Bio goes down a lot easier with chocolate chips and "Popcorners" and orange soda.
AP Bio, which she is taking for four hours this morning, is my daughter's last exam. Her final final, if you will. All of her courses except AP Bio finished nearly three weeks ago. When she gets home midday, she is done, done, done.
Chances are, she will never again study on our dining room table. Her dorm room, most likely; the campus library, probably ... but not our dining room table. And, that table has seen some action.
I can't count how many posterboards, dioramas, science fair and art projects have been carefully constructed there. Some stand out, like her biography of George Washington, a presentation on gypsum (that would be alabaster to you and me), a shadow box of Paul Revere's ride, and a model of ancient Greece's Erechtheion, complete with statues of goddesses made by spraying toga-clad Barbie dolls with Rust-Oleum American Accents Stone Spray.
She and I read Romeo and Juliet together there for freshman Honors English, switching parts scene-by-scene. That same year, we read Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. Longer (and less fun) than R&J, it was nevertheless time well spent and certainly helped her score a better grade from a notoriously difficult teacher. So that was a happy ending all around.
For the past four years, my daughter has taken over the dining room for virtually every mid-term and final, a handful of APs, SAT and ACT prep, and even her college application essays. It kept her focused and reassured me that she was actually hitting whatever books she needed to hit without being too distracted by incoming texts. On many recent nights, we've headed up to bed while she and her work remained downstairs.
But, like so many other things, large and small, these days ... her late night sessions are over.
Now, and for the foreseeable future, we have our dining room back. We can "Whoop!" and high-five and watch TV as loud as we want. And, I won't wake up in the morning to a table cluttered with sticky notes — or sticky snacks.
And no matter how melancholy I may be about the changes we go through, I can console myself with the fact that my daughter is off on a wonderful new adventure. In fact, those afternoons and evenings (and even wee-hour-in-the-mornings) paid off handsomely.
And that's another happy ending all around.
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