Tag Archives: exams

The Teenager Is Off To University!

awesomeNever have I been more proud of The Teenager than I am today.

He got his exam results and has secured his place at University.

When MS first raised its ugly head, he had just started out on his high school journey. When I think back to what he had to endure, I could cry.

He witnessed my first proper relapse in all its frightening, bewildering intensity. He saw me lying on the sofa, hour after hour, unable to carry out the most basic tasks. He asked around his friends for lifts to rugby, to football. My friend went in my place to Parent’s Evening.

He knew about the vicious bullying I was experiencing in work, culminating in my dismissal for MS. He heard about the legal proceedings, in amongst worsening relapses. And all the while he was trying to forge his own identity as a Teenager. A hefty burden at the best of times.

It’s always been just me and him, since he was a baby, and I’ve always tried to be independent, fearless and positive. MS changed all that. We both took a huge dip. It knocked us sideways. It took a while (years), but we got through it and we came out stronger.

Regular readers will know him really well – you’ll have heard about our fair share of ups and downs, run-ins and tantrums. I hope you’ve seen though, as I have, how he has grown in to quite an incredible young adult.

I know most parents boast, but if there’s ever a blog post for me to do that, it’s this one. He’s a totally amazing individual, with a real sense of who he is. He’s considerate yet determined. All fears I had that he would internalise the emotions he was experiencing with the MS have been laid to rest. I can only watch in wonder at how he goes out and grabs the world with both hands.

We had many quick text and phone chats this morning about his impending move to Bristol (according to The Teenager, ‘far enough away to be an adult, close enough to be handy’). I’ve been issued strict instructions for Drop-Off Day:

‘Mum, right, you can take me there with all my stuff and help sort my room out. You’ll make it nice?’

‘Of course, dear.’

‘Then I’ll have to say goodbye. You won’t cry, will you?’

‘If I do, I’ll do it in the car, don’t worry’.

‘Good. ‘Cause then I have to go to the kitchen and meet everyone else’.

‘I know. Do you think you’ll need an egg timer?’

‘Muuuuuuuum?! I’ve got a list of stuff to get, like don’t worry’.

‘Ok. How many shower gels do you reckon you’ll need?’

‘Muuuuuuuuuum’.

Today is beautiful – we made it. He made it. And in a way, The Teenager had a far bigger mountain to climb than me. I’d lived my life before MS came. He had it flung at him far too young. But he took it, dealt with it and succeeded despite it.

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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.’

‘No, I’M LEAVING SCHOOL.’

Oh.

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.’

Phew.

I collapsed in a crumpled heap outside work.

‘Muuuuuum, just one problem.’

Gah.

‘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.’

Oh.

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.

‘Huh?’

‘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’.

‘Eh?’

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

‘Dinner?’

*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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