Put your pencils down

I racked my brain. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing to my son. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I also wanted to let him know that I understood the importance of the week and that we had his back. My son is finishing up his first semester of college at West Virginia University and I was trying to figure out the best way of encouraging him on his finals. 

He had a full course load, taking Calculus, Biology, and Chemistry, with a couple of other classes mixed in as well. He plans to pursue a Psychology/Pre-med major. He has ambitious goals and already puts a ton of pressure on himself. If anything, I wanted my words to give him a virtual hug.

I ended up going with my go-to phrase: “Do your best. We love you.”

(I’m sure my son rolled his eyes at the text, but I can live with that. It’s more important to me that he knows we’re there for him.)

Pressure building up

Oh, I remember being in his shoes. It’s the end of the semester. You’re tired and beaten down, but you still need to do well on your final exams. Your biggest nightmare is the professor standing up and saying, “Pencils down” and you still have half the test to take. Finals come at you rapid-fire. You walk out of one and put your head up to catch your breath and two more finals pull you back down. Your whole life seems to come down to the next several days and your success or, dare I say it, failure.

Will you be ready? Will you get the grade that you need?

At least, that’s how it felt for me when I was young and a college student.

And the final grade is . . .

Oh, our son is our youngest and we’ve been through this with the other two. Of course, we know better — that life is more than one little “blue book” exam or several stapled pages full of detailed math and chemistry problems, but to an 18 or 19-year-old, full of wide-ranging hopes and dreams, final exams take on astronomical importance.

We’ll find out soon enough how he did. I pick him up on Thursday night and, let’s just say, he’s no Poker player. His smile or grimace will let us know his final grades well before his first “hello.” Yes, he’s worried, but as my father used to say about people he admired, “he’s got a good head on his shoulders” and I’m sure he did fine.

Yes, no matter what the final test says, he’s worked hard and I’m proud of him.

20 thoughts on “Put your pencils down

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  1. Congratulations — to you and your wife, the mama, for getting to this point. So much to be proud of with you last little bird stretching his wings. Milestones, everywhere! And for what it’s worth, I can’t think of anything more perfect than the text you sent him: “Do your best. We love you.” Whether he rolled his eyes or not, he knew you were thinking about him…forever in his corner, cheering him on. And I loved your comment about ‘no poker face’. I can relate. Our daughter had no ability to cloak news…we could always read her face. Thanks for sharing, Brian! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure about congratulations for us . . . but just happy for him that he’s trusting his gut and finding his way. I know I wasn’t that organized at that age. I liked to drink beer and party too much at that age. Yes, I need to teach him the finer points of keeping a straight face. You can always tell what he’s thinking. In some ways, I’m the same way. My wife makes fun of me because I start smiling at the smallest of fibs. Can’t lie to save my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice work all around, Brian. Sounds like you gauged the text perfectly for your son and you also did a great job of capturing all the parental angst trying to support grown (mostly grown) kids. Sending virtual hugs to you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The title of your post grabbed my attention straight away. It is really quite stressful having youngsters going through finals. I have a sixteen-year-old granddaughter who, although she isn’t taking college or uni finals, puts a tremendous amount of work into her final school exams. She is now at a music college. I think you sent just the right message to your son. It’s so important to let our children or grandchildren know that we love them unconditionally despite their good or poor results. I expect, depending on what time zone you’re in, as it’s Thursday, you might already know how your son did. I hope he did well and can relax for a while before going back to his studies again. I’m sure he will always remember your kind and loving words to him, whatever his future holds. He is very lucky to have a dad like you. My father couldn’t care a fig about my exam results when I was that age. I lost him ten years ago, but, awful though it may sound, I really don’t miss him. He never showed me any affection at all. Do update us on how your son did (with his permission, of course).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I do know that her history of rock exam was apparently really hard to study for…she said she and her friend were punchy in the library as they prepped. Luckily, for my daughter, the rest of her classes required papers

        Liked by 1 person

      2. History of rock music or geology. I ask because I remember a general Ed class — rocks for jocks. I was looking for one last class to fill out my course load one semester. I have no interest in geology but everyone said, oh it’s so easy, you’ll do great, an easy A. It was the hardest course of my semester. Survived just barely. I actually think history of rock music would be interesting but could be made challenging for a 19 year old to remember different dates and bands that they’ve never heard of. Ha ha

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Rock music. She said they learned about 85 songs during the semester and the final he chose 5 songs that they had to deep dive into. But they didn’t know which five he would choose

        Liked by 1 person

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