web analytics

Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Test-Taking Tremors

It’s a weekday morning at the Bartologimignano household and exams loom on the horizon.  I realize that many believe that we homeschoolers lounge in our pajamas all day long and play video games while eating chocolate cake, but believe it or not, our kids shower, dress well (no jeans, tennis shoes, or slippers allowed), have breakfast, brush their teeth, and are in school by 8:00 a.m. each day. Every twenty lessons, or about once a month per subject, they take a major test, not to mention daily spelling tests, etc.

My kids study three languages, are active in sports, in spiritual life, and in community service.  They don’t kick the dogs.  But if you feel good thinking we watch TV all day, so be it.  Why wouldn’t Judge Judy reruns be a good foundation for a future legal career?   But I digress.

This day, it’s time for exams and each is responding in his or her own, inimitable way:  nail-chewing, drumming pencils, ugly looks or exasperated comments, marching slowly as to the guillotine.

Petya faces a college Biology exam:  two weeks of study for six college credits.  This is pretty serious stuff:  cellular and molecular biology, botany, zoology, genetics, population biology, evolution.  I nod knowingly as he rattles off info about homeostatic mechanisms, restriction enzymes, the the law of independent assortment.  We enter the testing site and he is not his usual, happy-go-lucky self.  I consider whether or not we’re pushing him too much.

“Are you nervous?” I ask him, hand on his back.

“No, not really,” he shrugs, anxious to get it over with.

I’m concerned for him, while the others slip into their usual pre-test personas:  Pasha falls into the depths of despair, sure that he will fail; Mashenka gets very defensive and nasty, anything to throw up a smokescreen around the fact that she feels pitiful and substandard, that the test will simply show she doesn’t measure up; and Sashenka turns into motor mouth, guessing haphazardly during the review, as though giving an answer, any answer, would be just fine and dandy.  Talk about independent assortment.

The kids’ lack of academic English becomes evident when we grade their exams.  A student might memorize every foreign capital, or every scientific action and reaction, but if the question is phrased with an unknown word, it’s curtains for that quiz.

Petya passes Biology in under 50 minutes, out of a possible 90.  He flies through the 115 questions, along with a few charts and graphs to unsettle him.  He passes, but I can see the stress on his face.

Pasha earns an A.  How this happens, I don’t know, except that he is not progressing at a fast pace, so maybe slow and steady will win the race.  This is one of his best tests ever and he cannot stop grinning.  I give him a high-five.  I see he can’t remember why Constantinople became an ideal trade center, or that someone who wanted to work at a trade began as an apprentice.  Maybe we do need to watch TV:  The Donald could enlighten him.

In a role reversal, Mashenka earns a B, claiming that Poland’s location and lack of mountains on its east and west borders have made it an easy target for… tourism!

“Target?  A target for tourism?”  Benedetto asks.  “Why not invading armies?”

“Vithout mountains, many tourists come,” she informs us.

“Because we would only travel to… countries where we didn’t have to hike over the mountains in order to enter the country—?” I try.

She giggles, just as happy on this side of the test as she was nasty and cranky on the earlier side.

“I don’t know-!”


Sashenka, who struggles with anything but talking, uses her atrocious spelling and multiple choice guesswork to earn a solid B.  She marches to a different drummer, usually not able to remember that starting a sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a period is not only suggested, but required.

In response to “What did Mikhail Gorbachev accomplish”, she hesitates and later comes back to fill in, “stoped the communism”.

In response to “What did women accomplish in the Progressive Era”, she pens, “wemen could know work”.

“Could women now vote?” I question her, after she receives her test back.

“Oh, well, that, too,” she shakes her head affirmatively.  “But the communism I knew, Mama.  At first I didn’t, but then I thought, ‘Maybe it’s the communism!’”

Hopefully, test days are preparing them for the pressures of life.  Hopefully, I’ll make it through, too-!



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    I think at that age my child might have put Target and mountains and Poland together and felt there might be pretty good shopping in Poland since Target even has stores in the mountains.
    And how smart is it that one of your girls puts Mikail Gorbochov and communism together! She got the words together even if not exactly in the right order.
    I believe I told you that after a week of studying all about Martin Luther King all my daughter could come up with as a fact about him is that he was a “king”. She was so proud to have learned that!
    Seriously, it sounds like your children are doing just fine. Sometimes with test questions a sense of humor and some levity is needed. You just have to have fun with some of this sometimes!

  2. avatar AP says:

    My youngest would fit in just perfectly with your younger ones.

    I keep hoping that I will some day be able to figure out the difference between lack of motivation, loose wiring, laziness, or just a bad day. Because other times I am convinced she can do it and do it well – and she does.

    ….. and I am pretty sure that before she started home schooling she was in that group of people who thought it would be watching movies in her pajama’s ;O)

    • avatar admin says:

      For ours, or maybe any kids in general, there’s the desire to want to slide by with the barest minimum of effort. I told them tonight that everything in life can be done with a bit of attention and care. It just makes it nicer. I gave them the example of slinging their food on a plate, all messed-up, since it would only get messed-up in their stomachs anyway…. That opened a few eyes, lol.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.