Tag Archives: exams

The One About The Teenager and A Tense Stand-Off

examsExam Season.

Two words guaranteed to strike fear into any parent, never mind the students.

It was all going so well, at the beginning. My printer was working overtime as The Teenager printed off reams of study notes then carefully highlighted relevant paragraphs in day-glo orange and yellow.

He drew up a study schedule, factoring in breaks and even ten minute ‘Talk To Mum and Ask Her To Make Toast’ slots. Bless him. Loo breaks were twenty minutes but I didn’t take it personally.

Inwardly, I was congratulating myself. After the drama of his exams last year (shudder), he seemed to have turned his life and attitude around. I would boast, ‘oh, my son, he’s doing awfully well, you know. Studies every night for four hours.’ I felt like a Good Mum.

So I wasn’t worried when he trotted off to his first exam, clutching his bottle of water and new pens. I went to work and waited for the inevitable text – ‘Easy. Banter. Lolz. Are there any bananas in?????’

Instead, I got: ‘I need to speak to you URGENTLY. I’m leaving school.’

‘Ok dear, see you at home. We’ll have a chat when I get home.’



The Teenager was in meltdown. His exam panicked him. He panicked. And decided to leave school, permanently.

When I got back The Teenager was pacing round the cottage, which at 6’3″ took him three steps one way and two the other. He seemed frustrated.

A very long story short, there followed 48 hours of tense negotiations and stand-offs, including two trips to school to talk to his head of year. I was drained, he was exhausted. We broke for Noodle Box deliveries then resumed discussions, round and round and back again.

I downloaded college applications, Burger King applications and apprenticeship applications and looked up the French Foreign Legion (my patience at this point, wearing thin). We reached an agreement. He would drop one subject, get through the rest of the exams and wait for the results in August.

His last exam was on Monday. Today is Thursday and I’m still recovering. We had a chat last night and The Teenager said, ‘I don’t know what I was so worried about, that was easy. And now I get to catch up on my X-Box, and play footie with my friends all summer. Nice.’

I didn’t have the energy to reply. Instead, I cut myself a jumbo slice of lemon drizzle cake that my friend had baked for me to cheer me up, switched on the telly and collapsed onto the sofa. Nice.

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Now I Know My A, B, C’s

examsExam results day for The Teenager.

Bitten nails, late-night angsty-chats with friends, contemplating the future.

And that’s just me.

These last couple of months have been an exercise in diplomacy, negotiation and extreme patience:


‘I’ve failed. I know it. I just know it. I have. So there.’

‘You haven’t.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Well, um. Ah. Good point. You tried really hard? And, you went through a lot of post-it notes?’

‘S’not fair. I bet the exam markers hate me. Maybe they couldn’t read my writing.’

‘I’m sure they’ve seen it all, don’t worry.’

‘Mum. You’re, like, so not helping. Please, leave me to my despair and close the door behind you, ta.’

This morning, finally, we got here. The Teenager plonked himself with a grunt onto the sofa and watched beaming kids opening their results live on telly. Probably not his best idea ever.

I went to work (after offering to take the day off and do something nice, like feed the ducks), put my phone on loud and waited. And waited. Phone rings.

‘Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum.’ (heavy panting down the phone)

‘Hello dear!’

‘Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! I’m in!!’

‘Wonderful! In what, dear? In school? To get the results?’ (non-committal, just in case)

‘D’ur!! Like, I diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid it! I passed, gonna do my A levels, do my A levels, yay, like A levels.’


I collapsed in a crumpled heap outside work.

‘Muuuuuum, just one problem.’


‘You know how I have to register for the next two years? For the A levels? Well, like, I threw out my results from last year. By mistake.’


Long story short, I left work, took him to school and he got a print-out. Sorted.

I dropped him off at a friend’s house before heading back to work.

I was a wreck. He’s out celebrating.

It’s all good. We got there in the end.

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You’re Back In The Room …

RelapseI was in the van with The Boss last Friday, nattering away about my new devotion to chia seeds and almond flour, when, blam, there I was.

I gulped, slightly surprised, then said,

‘I’m back! I’m really … here. Wow.’

The Boss rolled his eyes. ‘You never went away. Believe me.’

‘No, really, I just know, I know, this relapse or whatever it was, it’s just suddenly gone.’

‘What, so can like, do some proper work now? And what the heck are chia seeds anyway? Actually, don’t answer that.’

It’s impossible to describe the sensation a relapse brings with it. Not just the usual problems, the tiredness, the wading through cotton wool soaked in treacle. It’s the disconnection, the sense of otherness. The sensation of being apart from people. It’s lonely.

For two weeks I’ve simply been focused on getting through the days. And this time around, I made sure I was still out and about, no matter how airy-fairy I may have seemed to everyone else. Please excuse my feet, dodgy hands, the slightly glazed expression.

For me, relapses descend quickly. I know the warning signs – the buzzy head, fuzzy brain and wuzzy feelings in my body. And just as quickly, they leave. Although they always leave behind some extra little symptom I never really had before. And the usual suspects remain.

I remember asking an MS nurse all those years ago, ‘but how will I know I’m having a relapse?’

She replied, ‘Oh, you’ll know.’

And she was right. Just like when I asked my midwife how I would know I was in labour. After she stopped laughing, I kind of got the feeling, yup, I’d know. She was right, too.

Anyway, the end of a relapse brings a certain clarity. The fog lifts and I realise just how much I’ve let slide. Which is fine. Life still goes on, despite it all. My mum very kindly disposed of the pigeon my cat wrestled home one morning and has brought me pesto salads and boxes of onion-y things to chomp on when I’m too tired to cook.

The Teenager gets his exam results and turns 16 next week, so the timing couldn’t be better. I tried to arrange a birthday meal with him the other day (having booked the day off work). I got a text back, ‘Can fit you in for brunch, 10.30 to 11.15. Any good?’

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Don’t Need No Edukashun

ChrisIt’s all over.

The tears, the angst, the arguments.

Day-glo highlighter pens were flung across the room, doors were slammed and the fridge was stripped bare on a daily basis, until even the rubbery carrots and three-day-opened tub of houmous was wolfed down.

Yup, The Teenager’s exam season is finally over and it couldn’t come soon enough.

I tried my best to be understanding and supportive. I made endless rounds of toast and was sympathetic when he regularly drained my printer of ink as yet another past paper trundled through and was stapled, completed and torn up before he stomped upstairs, scattering the pieces.

I gently engaged him in conversation only to be rebuffed with, ‘gah, you wouldn’t understand, you’re like, old yeah? and didn’t even have computers Back Then. Or the internet. Or mobiles. Or Facebook. Or Snapchat. I mean, really, what did you, like,  do all day?’

I regularly received text updates after his exams, ranging from ‘smashed it, ohhhhh yessss!!!!!!!!’ to ‘leavin school, not doin A levels’. Or, ‘Dominos? Pleeeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeee?’

He came home after a rather hard maths exam and told me he had decided to go into gainful employment after his exams rather than continuing his education. I reasonably told him I’d take him to Burger King on his results day to sign him up. Along with all the University graduates who can’t find a job. ‘But I love Burger King. I can tell them that in the interview?’

Anyway, there’s not much we can do until his results come through on 20th August. In a cruel twist of fate, that’s the day before his 16th birthday.

The Prom Suit Saga filled much of our time, mostly mine. Due to his stature, we sourced the Gentlemen’s Outfitters that kits out the Welsh rugby team. Only problem was, it was embedded deep in the valleys, so deep that even my sat-nav queried me at one point with, ‘turn around when possible, you numpty, you, there’s nothing here.’

On The Prom Evening, suited and booted, he rushed downstairs. ‘PROBLEM’, he yelled, ‘there’s stupid, idiot lines in my trousers, where’s the iron?’ He was frantic and with only five minutes to go before he was to be picked up for the prom, so was I.


‘Lines? Lines? Look‘.

He pointed and flapped at the beautifully pressed-in creases in his dinner suit trousers.

‘That’s what they’re supposed to look like’.


‘Yes, my little cherub. It’s a prom suit, a dinner suit, now let me get a photo of you’.


*strop, thump, meh*

He left, his tie skew-whiff (‘s’right’), photo taken for posterity (‘muuuuuuuuuum, really?’) and I slumped on the sofa.

We got there. In the end.

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Never Go To An All-You-Can-Eat When You’re Starving

all you can eatI took The Teenager out for a meal today to celebrate some recent exam success.

They don’t do GCSEs like they used to (in my day, we just had one huge exam in each subject; nowadays they seem to do them in dribs and drabs, tsk), so I imagine we’ll be having quite a few of these meals over the coming months.

Anyway, it could have been bread and water for him earlier this week after I got his report card from school. Two weeks late.

I was only made aware of this by default after speaking with another parent and when confronted, The Teenager fake-smacked his forehead and said, ‘oh yeah, knew I’d forgotten something, must be, like, all that studying filling up my brain, like, totally.’

To cut a long story short, when he’s good, he’s pretty impressive but when he can’t be bothered, he’s awful. A snippet from two of his subjects – ‘… it appears that he has deemed this subject entirely irrelevant to his educational needs’ and ‘his mock exam was disappointing because he answered the wrong question.’

Anyway, lunch. A warehouse-type all-you-can eat soulless place, with tables crammed so close to each other I was able to read the Twitter timeline of the diner next to me as he scrolled through his phone, ignoring his friend and stuffing his face with noodles.

I was starving. So was The Teenager, but that’s nothing new. So we grabbed our plates and checked out what was on offer. The usual suspects (vague impressions of Thai, Chinese and Indian food with some salad thrown in) and we piled our plates high. Lovely.

Unfortunately, being British I felt a bit awkward going up a second time, and a third. As I passed the gaggle of waitresses, I felt compelled to say something stupid like, ‘oh, haven’t eaten in days‘  (one glance at me would confirm this is simply untrue) or ‘thyroid, eh?’. Why? I cringed as the plates piled high on our table, but I was determined to get my money’s worth.

We eventually moved like locusts towards the desserts section. Mini cheesecake? Yes please. Mini chocolate roulade? Don’t mind if I do. The Teenager made impressive inroads into the ice-cream bar.

Finally, we staggered to the door and as we headed back to the car, The Teenager said, ‘Aw, thanks mum, what’s for dinner?

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