It’s Ballarat Show Day today, so it’s a holiday. It’s kind of weird to have this day as the public holiday when the rest of the state has Tuesday for Melbourne Cup day, but here we are. It was freezing cold and it poured rain off and on all day, which probably isn’t very good if you’re our neighbours who are away in their caravan, but it’s pretty good for me who just wants to wrap up in blankets and watch movies and feel cosy.
Nicholai worked, so he probably didn’t appreciate the weather. He DID appreciate the holiday penalty rates that mean he made something like $120 for a few hours of pushing trolleys around though.
It’s been a pretty quiet week. Troy had a new accountant start on Wednesday (fingers crossed this guy works out, that would be great) so he spent an extra day in Yarra Glen to sort out things for him. This meant I had to work on my own here on Thursday, which was a bit lonely and depressing.
Nicholai and Emma had a couple of exams, which seemed to go well, thank goodness. I was very anxious for Emma, who had a panic attack during her English exam last semester, wrote almost nothing, and failed it decisively. I was pretty concerned that she was working herself up for a repeat performance this time, but she got through it and came home happy with the way she did. I’m really relieved, because there has been a lot of discussion about special consideration and special accommodations for the exams and I really didn’t know if I was handling it in the right way. Basically my thought was that although she had one horrible experience, she’s done exams and tests as long as she’s been in school and always done well. I didn’t want to elevate the bad exam to making it representative of her abilities, if that makes sense. I wanted her to see it as a bad day, a single experience that she can use to learn something about herself and the way she reacts to exam pressure, and then see how we can best manage things going forward. I didn’t want her to take this one bad exam and use it to define herself as ‘I can’t do exams’, not when she’s in year 10 and has years of exams ahead of her that are going to be more important! So we talked about it, like if she thought she might do better to go into the exam hall first/ last, or sit in a particular spot (at the front so she didn’t have to see anyone else, or at the back so that no one was doing anything behind her etc) but I was pretty firm that I wanted her to do the exams in the hall with everyone else if at all possible, and I would rather she tried (with some accommodations if necessary) and failed another exam rather than go the extreme option of doing them privately. As I said to her, it’s only year 10- she’s not going to fail the year even if she failed the exam. These exam results don’t matter, so what really matters about them is practicing her exam taking techniques and learning what she can do in that environment to achieve her best. If she’d been in year 11 or 12, where the actual results go on her transcript and DO matter, it might have been different, but that’s where I was coming from. And as I told her repeatedly, she’s done a lot of tests and exams in her life and always done fine, so there was no reason to expect another bad experience was inevitable. She’s very, very capable of doing hard things, and she needs to know that.
I don’t know, it’s a really difficult line to walk. I do not want to minimise any mental health issues the children have. I know how debilitating things like anxiety and depression can be! But at the same time…they’re so young. Their brains are so malleable and their sense of self is developing so quickly, that I genuinely believe avoidance is not the answer in this case. They are primed to learn coping skills and different thought patterns and to develop good mental health habits, and I really want them to focus on that. I don’t want them to limit themselves.
Anyway, after all that – Emma had her maths and English exam on the same day and said they went fine. I’m truly, deeply proud of her, no matter what her actual mark is in the end. She did something that scared her, and she got through it.
It’s a different thing, parenting teenagers. All that with the exams, the gender and sexuality issues, their working lives, and just preparing them to be functional, independent adults. And not all of it is big, and sometimes you overlook the small things! Like Emma wanted to spend her birthday giftcards and, given that she had no school and I had work, I told her she could catch the bus and then realised that she just didn’t really know how! So we roped Nicholai in for his assistance (we’ve been through this with him, he’s quite good with public transport now) and worked out where she could catch the bus, what number she needed, what she was supposed to do with the Myki card when she got on on the bus, and away she went. She did fine, and came home both happy with her shopping and happy with having been a little more independent for a day. It’s like when they were little and you had to let them dress themselves so they could learn how, even though it took twice as long as when you just whipped their clothes on. I guess back then it was doing their own shoelaces and wiping their own asses, and now it’s doing exams and navigating the world without you right there, but it’s all important.
Soren got his basketball medal too – he won most improved for last season, so yay for him! I really am happy for him. Unhappy to learn that his team has been put up a grade again this season though! This is what happened last season, they won the first few games and then were put up a grade and were massacred every single week. It’s frustrating to think it’s going to happen again this time. It might not, but I’m not all that hopeful – I mean they’ve played four games and won three (by a margin of 10 points, 5 points and 32 points) and lost one (by 4 points). Excluding the 32 point win (and that team has apparently lost all their games by similarly large margins) I think it shows that the team is in the right grade. Maybe they’re going to be one of the stronger teams, but they’re winning by reasonable margins that indicate the game was competitive between the two teams. However it looks like the league just makes whichever teams are top 3 or 4 after the four games and moves them up/ moves down the equivalent number without actually looking at the score lines. I know they want to make for a fair competition and I think that’s a good thing to work towards, but given my own very limited experience I’m questioning their method. However perhaps our experience last season was unusual (in being so wildly outplayed once they were moved up) and his team will do better this time. I hope so. Not because I care about winning, but because losing by SO much, where nothing you do or how hard you try even matters because the other team are so much better, is really demoralising. It’s been lovely to see Soren’s confidence grow over the past four weeks, and I just hate the idea that he’s going to lose that.