I’m a parent before anything else, including being a water drinker. You could make the case that if I were dehydrated in a desert I should quench my thirst in order to make well-thought out parenting decisions. Then again, is there such a thing as a well-thought out parenting decision? It is pretty much a series of educated guesses and doing the exact same or exact opposite of what your own parents did. And why are my kids in the desert? Is “desert” the name of that new mobile game?
My kids occasionally ask me about teaching. I know! They were just as surprised as I was that they asked about my day. I suspect it has to do with wanting a peek inside the teacher’s mind, or at least wanting to know the wonders of the teacher’s lounge. Ever since I mentioned we had two working microwaves they’ve viewed me with a little more respect.
The most recent question centered around testing. How we felt about it. Did we mean it when we told students that they would do okay? Do we know all of the answers? Do we make up test questions while heating up lunches in one of our two employee microwaves?
The Worries That Come With Testing
My second child in particular is curious. Probably because this year will be her first year taking a standardized test. She’s taken mock tests and district assessments, but all of those pale in comparison to the big scary super test she has coming up.
So she wonders a lot, even waiting for my answer before she runs off to ride her bike. I tell her what I can, which isn’t much. Not because I am not allowed to tell her, but because, as you probably know, there isn’t much to tell.
My vague answers led her to ask what would happen if she did poorly. Let me take a second to state that I try to be forthcoming with my kids. I try to answer their questions with as much information as they want without giving them more than they need. For example, I didn’t show them video clips of me putting together bikes at 4:30 AM on Christmas morning when they were three so my wife and I would get the credit reserved for Santa. I waited until they were at least five.
How could I answer? Did I give her the teacher answer, whatever that is? No. I’m her dad, so I answered like a parent.
I don’t remember exactly what I said. “Shark Tank” was on.
(I’m kidding about not paying attention to my answer because “Shark Tank” was on.)
(It was “Modern Family”)
I said something along the lines of, “Just do your best. You’ll do fine. I love you.”
“Even if I fail?”
“I don’t think you’ll fail. But if you do, yes, we’ll still love you. Do you best.”
“But I heard we get held back. I heard we can’t try out for extracurricular activities next year. I heard…”
“Just do your best.”
“Dad. Why do we even have to take the stupid test?”
For once, I didn’t have an answer. Not even a made up one.