I cannot seem to recall my first test in school. But I can recall how much I enjoyed the tuna fish sandwich on white bread that they served in the lunch room — why is that not surprising? Tests were never my thing. I vaguely remember doing very poorly on several Hebrew subject tests in elementary school. I remember that I would do well on vocabulary tests and my friend Michelle, sitting next to me, would do better on spelling tests. Or it could have been vice versa. I am not even sure what day of the week it is.
Sophomore year of high school was not a stellar one for me in the test department. Chemistry, French, and geometry … oh my! I often see my math teacher from that year around town and every time I do, I shudder with fear. When each of my boys successfully made it through tenth grade without the threat of summer school looming over their heads (do they still have summer school?) I thought I was safe as a parent. Ha ha, joke is on me…you are never safe as a parent because something is always going to come up. But that is for another time.
In any event, this brings me to the SATs. I rarely mention first and last names in my column, but if it wasn’t for Andrew Treitel (who now lives in Israel and most likely does not read this or even knows that I have a column) I never would have gotten over 200 on the math portion of the SATs. (And 200 is the score you would get for correctly writing your name on the exam.) Poor Andrew. I honestly felt bad for him, because math just isn’t my thing. Though he probably made enough money off of my inability to do simple multiplication to buy a car. Or a house. Or both. But he achieved the impossible, and I received a respectable 600 on the math section.
When you have kids, you never know what they are going to be like. For example, I always thought I would have chubby kids. And, miraculously, I do not. But will they be smart? Will they inherit my terrible math skills? My terrible study skills? My temper? My sarcasm? My oversensitivity? You never know — but as time goes on, it becomes more apparent who has been blessed with what. My boys are thin AND they are not afraid of math. Truly miraculous. Unfortunately, the sarcasm has trickled down, but that was inevitable. Their love of minyan has nothing to do with me, but you can’t win them all.
In any event, when sons #1 and #2 began eleventh grade, we knew they were going to have to take the SATs. So, instead of going the really expensive private tutor route, we did some research into Huntington Learning Center. And we decided that is where we were going to send our precious angels to begin their ascent into SAT stardom. Who am I kidding, we are still their parents, and we would be happy with anything over 1,000.
Aim high kids. Aim high.
Son #1 and Son #2 each were given almost a year to prepare, and both of them did us proud. They both got into the college of their choice — some of you might have heard of it — it is the Harvard of Washington Heights, better known as Yeshiva University. A respectable institution, where Husband #1 attended, and I attended the girls school, better known as Stern College for Women and Others. The “others” are yet to be determined. Anyway, the past summer ends, and son #3 informs us that he wants to take the ACTs. Sure! Why not! We will look into it! And that is where this story goes terribly awry.
Poor son #3. We really dropped the ball with that one. His brothers had at least six months to study — and we signed up our sweet little baby boy five weeks before the test. Bad parents, very bad parents. But just before you start to feel too badly for our inadequately prepared genius — the kid does have his own car. You just can’t have everything. Which is a life lesson that applies beyond having parents who never would have become parents if they had to take a test to do so.
Truth is, when son #3 leaves for his year in a bubble, also known as his year in Israel, I will have an empty nest. Just me and husband #1….perhaps I am sabotaging his chance of doing well so he will never leave the nest. And is that really so wrong???
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck knows that it is wrong. But she does not know what life will be like without a table full of empty water bottles, Jolly Rancher wrappers, and banana peels…