AAARG, I’m ready to scratch my eyes out, the kids are doing the North Carolina required academic test that homeschoolers have to plow through each year end, goddess save me from multiple-choice hell. It’s worse even than Hulu commercials.
Although it IS kind of interesting to watch the kids and their emerging test-taking styles. Sophie grinds through each question, plod, plod, snacks help, don’t interrupt her flow or it will take her fifteen minutes to get it back, she’s going to finish this fucking thing no matter what. It’s like a vendetta with her.
Luc, on the other hand, tricks out each question, sussing out the answers as much from deductive removal of options as from answering the actual question at hand: A is stupid, B is obvious red herring, therefore it must be C. Or, if I read the last sentence I can get the answer to this without reading the whole thing…etc. Like the way he does math: to multiply, say, 24 x 6, he doesn’t work through the steps, 6×4, 6×2, etc, with a pencil, that would take too long. Instead he does it in his head by doing 20x 6, 4×6, and then adding them together. To subtract nine, he quickly subtracts ten and adds one in his head. So tricky, my little boy.
But oh, how he hates it. “NO, not more! I’m so BOOOORED.”
Talk about boring. I’m about to die. Because I can read the word, or do the math, or know what should be capitalized in this sentence, but I can’t say anything. I have to watch them struggle, or get it wrong, or get distracted for the twentieth time and keep my mouth shut. I can’t even show any facial expressions because Luc is examining me minutely for clues. Part of his strategy is tricking me into revealing the answer with an eyebrow twitch. He’s very good at it. Apparently I would be a terrible poker player. I’m going to have to start wearing a bag over my head.
I’ve been dealing with all of this by youtubing old Julia Child videos. Quite unexpectedly, I find Julia helps me to stand being there at the table to answer questions (which mostly I can’t answer), and to keep the kids from sitting around chatting or just generally falling into a morass of unfocused, glazed, despair. (“You can’t answer questions if you are hanging upside down out of your chair. How about sitting up and squeezing just one more out. Then we’ll take a break.”) Julia keeps me from slitting my wrists.
If you want a dadaist test-administering experience, I recommend sipping sake, watching Julia, and helping kids fill in stupid bubbles with #2 pencils. Because Julia is hilarious and marvelous and totally lovable. That’s a fact.
Some of the questions are so DUMB and often bizarrely outdated feeling, or ethnocentric. Like questions about writing down phone messages, when all anyone does now is leave voicemail on someone’s cell phone, or, sends a text. It’s like IQ tests used for gorillas who can use sign language: Of the five following things, which two are good to eat? 1-flower, 2-block 3-shoe 4-ice cream. A gorilla will answer 1-flower, but it will be marked wrong. Luc, especially, is full of logical reasons why the “right” answer is the “wrong” one.
Really, testing is the absolute worst of school (minus the bullying and the cafeteria lunches) distilled down into one torture device designed to make you hate the things it purports to test.
Plus there is this sort of thing: Luc, technically in 2nd grade, is doing 4th grade math, and Sophie, technically in 4th grade is reading at a 7th grade level. This without ever doing any school or study. My kids are great, but they aren’t savants. It’s just that SCHOOL IS SUCH A SCAM. Seriously, school is totally unnecessary for learning this stuff! Yeah, when you get further along and want to specialize beyond the general knowledge stuff that they cover in elementary school, sure, school can be great. You have a goal, you want to learn X, you go learn it. University for the win! But elementary school? SUCH a waste of kid’s precious time. They’re kids, with that wonderful kid perspective, for such a short time. If they’re in school, the mass of those few years gets squandered doing unnecessary busywork. I really believe this.
Okay, to be fair, North Carolina is an easy state to home school in. It’s not like Maryland, say, where you have to come up with a portfolio of what your kid did all year, a portfolio that the state might reject. Imagine having to justify your life to some stranger! Screw that. In comparison the test isn’t so bad—a few days of torture and then we’re free for another year. So there is that. If I can survive.
Oh god, two more days to go. I need some really wickedly awesome reward after this.
Remember, if no one is watching, you can use the sides of your hands!