Okay, first up with the crap advice then:
1. For some reason, during exams your average teenager will turn into an eating machine of epic proportions. Your healthy and carefully planned dinners will be scarfed down, oh yes, but it’s also worth visiting your local supermarket and bulk-buying white sliced loaves, revolting plastic cheese, those Pepperami things that look like they’re in a little condom and make your breath smell like dead people, Chilli Heatwave Doritos and 5-packs of Snickers and gallons of milk – all of which seem to be prepared into epic snackage at some time during the night (judging by the state of the kitchen in the morning – akin to that of an explosion) and consumed in near-darkness in the teenager’s lair while immersed in a book that appears to have had the edges chewed by some kind of rabid dog.
2. When you receive a phone call ten minutes before an exam from your teenager which, roughly translated, sounds like this: ‘OHMYGODMUM…CAN’TREMEMBERBLOODYANYTHING, I’M SO GOINGTOFAIL!!!’ , the correct response is a gentle and encouraging salve for the troubled hormonal teenaged soul: ‘you can do it! You’ve studied loads. I believe in you.. ‘ etc. Fight the urge to say ‘you get in there and get a bloody A or I’ll break your legs, y’hear me?’.
3. When in receipt of a text from the school that says: ‘X left an examination early today, contravening school rules and therefore not putting in the expected effort.’, it’s best not to:
a: imagine your offspring rushing from the exam room in tears after realising with horror that they can’t answer a single question, deciding that they’re done with education and want to join a commune in Israel and embrace their inner child.
b: secretly congratulate yourself for having produced a rebel who rides the highway of society without a helmet (or something), whilst simultaneously pressing the speed dial button in a vain attempt to ask him what the sodding hell happened.
c: imagine doing said teenager considerable physical damage with some kind of axe or mallet when they finally answer the 75th phone call and mutter ‘oh the exam was a piece of cake. Nobody told us we couldn’t leave early. Soz, I left my phone in my locker’.
4. Similarly, when discussing said ‘piece of cake’ exam that mysteriously only took an hour to complete, it’s best to refrain from asking several times whether they went over their answers properly and whether they’re REALLY sure that they didn’t miss out a page. The resulting eye-rolling, tutting and swearing will just add to the overall stress levels.
5. When the teenager, in between mouthfuls of yet another dinner that would feed a third world nation for a week and gulping from a whole pint of milk, explains to you that he totally blanked and couldn’t remember the name of the author of the book he’d been studying for English over the last two years and that it didn’t really matter ‘cos I won’t lose too many marks I doubt’, it’s probably best to count slowly backwards from ten. Do not, I repeat, do not:
a. point out that the book has spent a large amount of time on his bedside table over the last two years
b. point out that he’s been resting his milk on it so much that it has rings forever embedded into the cover encircling the name of the author whose name escaped him in the exam
c: point out that the spine of said book, WITH the name of the author pointing towards him, must probably have been the last thing he saw most nights before drifting off to peaceful slumber. It’s done. Move on.
The good one:
If all else fails, throw cash at the situation.
Every child is different. For some, it’s praise, for others it’s freedom. For mine, it’s cold hard cash. After months of yelling ‘shouldn’t you be revising?’ at his headphone-encased head planted in front of the Xbox, the magic words that saw him drop the controller like hot sh*t and rush upstairs faster than you can say ‘Call of Duty’ to revise were, well, let’s just say financially motivated.
Don’t judge me.
Well not until you’re the parent of a teenager.
And hey, look on the bright side: just two more years until A levels!