The Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 24, 2020

The stress level has been running high this week around the house, due to us being in the middle of a move and mid-terms for our middle school kid.

Beckett, the sixth grader who was actually taking the tests and moving out of the only home he has ever known, seemed largely unfazed by both, however. Over the last few weeks, I have often wondered if the kids have even grasped the fact we are moving. The clutter of boxes and general disarray associated with packing do not seem to be impacting either kid. The other night Beckett even remarked how something seemed different in our foyer area. He eventually realized about 20 large boxes had been moved and wondered how it happened. When I offered to show him where I moved them at the new house, he said, “oh I’m good.”

For Carson’s part, he likes helping with the moving process. He has helped me relocate dozens of boxes and our entire deck and lawn furniture in the past week. After each trip to and from the houses, he flexes his muscles with fists to the sky. It always makes me laugh. Most people, including me, abhor the process.

Despite dozens of boxes and displaced furniture making the house a bit of a hazard zone, Beckett remained unflustered throughout the week as he prepared for his exams. I cannot say the same thing.

Since we have a lot on our plates with the moving process, we told Beckett over the last couple weeks we need to see independent studying and preparation for his mid-term exams, which cap his first semester in middle school. He assured us there’s nothing to worry about. He was confident and aware of what was expected. To his credit, he has been doing well in school and even argued he should be able to stay up to weekend bedtimes this week because he only had to take an exam or two and was then done for the day.

I even joked to Pam while we were in our attic packing one day that Beckett doesn’t seem stressed at all about his exams. She indicated she was glad someone wasn’t worried.

In fact, when Tuesday afternoon rolled around and it was time for me to test him on what he had been studying for his American History exam, Beckett’s focus was onto something else. He wanted to talk about his basketball game that night. We agreed to circle back to this after the game.

Wednesday seemed to be the day he got a grip on the reality of what was before him. He woke up exhausted. He said he was sore from doing gymnastics on Monday. He said he was tired from the two exams he had Tuesday and the basketball game that night. He said he needed “five more minutes” of sleep six times. It took me three trips to his room to coax him out of bed so he was at school in time for his exam.

I happened to pick him up after his exam that morning 15 minutes late because we thought it ended at 10:30 a.m. when it was 10. This tardiness pretty much sums up life right now.

Cleaning out our house anytime we are not working is being balanced with trying to keep the kids on track and on an appropriate routine amid the bedlam of packing. There have been situations when we have crashed and burned, including picking him up late from his exam.

As soon as I pulled into school and saw him 100 yards away, I could tell by his body language all was not right. He broke down as soon as he closed the car door. He had gotten a “B” on his history mid-term because he made some mistakes in his preparation for it. He wrongly graded a pre-test he took. The answers he marked as wrong were right because he didn’t line up the pre-test answers correctly with the questions.

The kid needed to get out a good cry. Though not thrilled he underachieved, I was pleased to see how much he cared. He was mad at himself for making a silly mistake on his study materials. He knew if he hadn’t messed up he would have easily done better. We also knew if we weren’t distracted by the move we would have noticed his mistakes. There was a good heaping dose of parenting guilt added to the equation now.

Though I hate to see him so upset, he needed to have this learning experience. He was not taking these exams as serious as he should. Though he put in the effort studying, I’m not positive it was quality, productive time for the most part.

We don’t know how he did on his other exams this week, but my expectations are not high. My guess is he achieved about the same. He is still learning studying skills. He’s adept at memorizing, but there also needs to be a deeper understanding of the materials to excel on tough tests that require writing and expounding on the facts.

At pickup on Thursday, there was no poor body language. Though he didn’t know the grade and thought it was difficult, he felt like he did well on his science exam. In his mind, more importantly, midterms were completed, and he didn’t have school the next day or the entire following week. That relief won out over any concerns he may have been harboring over his exam grade, at least for now.

Meanwhile, we went back to packing.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.