Suffolk: Exam season is here, so Do Not Disturb!

SSSSHH. No, really: Ssssshh. It’s exam season and we have to tippy-toe around the house like balletic mice so as not to disturb the karma. Actually, we might as well rampage around the place like a heavy metal band, for Emma’s revision strategy thus far seems to involve playing online Sudoku.

Hard to fathom how that helps her retain dusty facts about the history of medicine, but one tries not to nag too much. There comes a time when they have to learn by their own mistakes.

To be fair, the GCSE tests aren’t yet in full swing. She’s had art so far – two full schooldays barricaded in the art room, during which she splashed paint about and interpreted the theme of similarity and difference. Or something like that. And how did it go? “It’s . . . complicated,” grunts the Year 11 student as she tries to force 12, 34 and 76 into the right Sudoku squares. She seems happy, so I take that as a good sign. The truth will be revealed when the results pop out in the summer.

The full-on exam period begins in the middle of May. It’s funny when your children reach a certain age: you can remember exactly how you were, and what concerned you, at that same stage.

Emma seems to be following a similar path to me: doing just about enough to maintain a comfortable position in the middle of the pack. “Average”, in other words. For all the beneficial traits I’ve passed her through genes and 16 years of nurturing (What exactly are these beneficial traits? asks an incredulous Jane, rudely reading over my shoulder as I type) I’ve also dealt her some duff cards.

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I don’t quite know why, but in the weeks before my O-levels I bought a tortoise. As I sat in the garden, revising (OK, daydreaming), Racer (teenage irony) sped along the flowerbeds, nibbling Mum’s blooms. The ideal companion: not demanding, like a puppy, but there to chat to whenever chemistry revision got too much. Perhaps I should buy Emma a virtual pet to sit alongside online Sudoku.

James has his own challenges next week: SATs. English might go all right, but with maths he’s not likely to trouble the scorers, poor thing. Not that he seems to mind. Oddly, he’s recently been taken with the alternative vote debate and is trying to construct a complicated formula (involving extra points for narrow away defeats, first-half performances and goals scored when there’s an R in the month) to prove Ipswich Town could have won promotion if only the league table were based on parallel-world criteria. Desperate, yes, but if that’s not a sign of mathematic genius I don’t know what is.

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