Define “Stress” on the Day of the AP Chemistry Exam

Our junior took the AP Chem Test today. At the far end of our dining room table. Online over the same 50 minutes as the rest of the world, due to COVID. I imagined millions of teenagers biting their nails. Chewing erasers. Twitching. Sweating. Desperately taking deep, calming breaths.

He spent the hours prior to the test “just chilling.” Loved the class. Never complained about the difficulty or workload. Never worried that he didn’t have an A. Logged on 30 minutes before launch. Followed me around the house for the countdown.

It’s Recycling Day too. The dog barked as the trucks drove up and down the streets of our neighborhood. The rest of us stayed quiet.

I asked if he was nervous.

“Only a little.” he paused, considering.

“But it’s not like a Packers’ game day kind of nervous.”

That’s much worse.

His First AP Test

He’s a freshman taking AP Human Geography. It’s his lowest grade entering exams. But when I dropped him off this morning to take his first AP Test, I gave him a high-five, “You’ve got this!”

Keeping our fingers crossed…

5 Days To Go: He begins re-reading his text book. A few hours, face serious, with the book open.

“Can I take a break?”

“Nope.”

“I’m soooo tired.”

“Focus.”

“You’re soooo mean!”

4 Days To Go: Same thing. Book open. Occasionally shouting out interesting facts. Then, Dad starts quizzing him.

Not good. Blank stares. Lots of “we didn’t learn that” and “wait… I know this… don’t say anything…” then “why can’t I remember?!”

Time to intervene.

3 Days To Go: I find an AP Human Geography Quizlet online. More than 900 terms. Multiple ways to test himself. “This is your life for the next three days. Go!”

“Can I take a break?”

“Nope.”

“A snack?”

“Focus.”

“You’re soooo mean!”

2 Days To Go: Amazon Prime delivers AP Human Geography flashcards. Quizlet by day. Flashcards with Mom by night.

“Can I go to bed?”

“10 more.”

“You’re soooo mean!”

1 Day To Go: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And then… “We did that one last night!” and “Ohhhhhh, nailed it!”

And then, finally headed to bed… “I’m really looking forward to the test tomorrow. I think I enjoy reaching mental capacity.”