Monday, June 29, 2015

A Few Final Thoughts on Finals

Our lives are fairly crazy even in the best of times. But, last week was certifiably insane. 

My teenage daughter celebrated becoming a senior the morning after the class ahead of hers graduated. But, despite the associated public celebration, she still had to get through something. Something big.


(Cue the theme from Jaws here.)

A couple of the teachers from a couple of her classes — namely AP U.S. History and AP English Composition — didn't actually schedule actual exams during their assigned exam times. (After subjecting the students to the AP test itself about a month and a half prior, they probably assumed, rightly, that the kids were all tested out.) However, this didn't mean my daughter was off the hook. 

For "APUSH," she had a 12-15 page research paper and a presentation. With less nudging than usual from her feminist mother, she chose "Why the ERA Didn't Pass."

Let's pause here so I can compose myself. (Sniff, sniff. I'm so proud.)

For AP English, she had to give a presentation as if she were an admissions counselor from an assigned college. (She wore a blazer and a vintage pin of the school's mascot which I happened to find in a junk (Or should I say "junque?") jewelry box.) Then she had to review essays from three prospective students and write three responses to them: an acceptance, a rejection and a waitlist. Meanwhile, she herself was "applying" to three of the schools presented by her classmates. It was all a little complicated ... and a lot of work.

Her other courses had final exams: Physics, Pre-Calculus, Psychology and French. One was a "gimme." Two required some, but not an inordinate amount of, study. But, the fourth and final final was clearly created in the ninth and inner circle of hell. 

Her question: "Will you still love me if I fail it?"

My answer: "I will love you no matter what until I die. BUT DON'T FAIL YOUR FINAL!"

My husband was in New York on business, taking my sister out for drinks at the Algonquin, while I stayed up late each night to proofread. (Um, what's wrong with this picture?) Meanwhile, my daughter, always working an angle, convinced her Psych teacher to let her timeshift the test so she'd be done a day early. 

If my daughter wasn't already planning an equestrian career, she'd make a marvelous lawyer.

After a flurry of activity and more than a modicum of stress (we were both holding our breaths at the end there), she went in for her last test. And, suddenly ...

It was over.

I thought back on the celebrations we used to plan to mark the successful end of a school year. There were trips to the Boston Aquarium, dinners in the North End or at a favorite Chinese restaurant. So, in keeping with our family tradition, I asked what her preference was.

She was diplomatic, but explained that she and her friends had plans. Someone had the bright idea of bringing all their work to a local beach and having a bonfire.

(Great, I thought, you survive finals and you get arrested.)

The fire didn't pan out (phew!), but other parties did. Off she went, a senior officially now. I sat down with leftovers and the first season of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime.

And, I think we both exhaled. 


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