A few Fridays ago, I was called to come and collect my sick daughter from school. The nurse said she wasn't running a fever, but she was complaining of a tummy ache. When I got to the office, there she sat. Wearing her backpack. Lethargically slumped on a chair. She saw me. She perked up. And then unperked. Suspiciously.
We walked out to the car. I had her get in the front seat. She perked all the way back up. A little alarm bell went off in my head.
me: "What's going on? Do you feel like you have to spit up?"
me: "But your tummy hurts?"
me: "Are things going okay with your friends?"
me: "You sure?"
her: "Oh, Yes. Yesterday we played on the playground and I got to be the mom and Susie was the puppy and Minnie was my daughter. And then Mckenzie was also my daughter. And then I was the puppy. And Minnie was the mom. And Mckenzie was aslo a puppy....."
Hmmm. No girl drama.
Spelling test. The first one of the year.
me: "How was your spelling test?"
her: "Um. We haven't done it yet."
me: "Huh. You worried about that?"
her: "Yeah. Last year, the teacher would tell us the words and then we would write them down. This year, they just give us a paper and we have to write them all. And they don't even tell us what they are."
me: "Did your teacher tell you that?"
me: "No teacher would give you a spelling test without first telling you the words. And if a teacher tried to give you a test in a way you didn't understand, mom and dad would talk with them and come up with a way that works for you."
her: looking at me....awaiting my next move
me: "Let's pray about it. Sometimes when a person is nervous, they will get a sore tummy. But it doesn't mean they are sick. It just means they are nervous. The only way to get it better is to take that spelling test."
We prayed. I walked her back in. We found her class on their way to the library. Her teacher asked if she was feeling better, and I told him she was a little nervous about the spelling test. He gave me an understanding nod. She joined her class with great trepidation and a near melt down halted only by a penetrating glance from her mother and the hand of her best friend.
me to her best friend: "She's feeling a little nervous. Do you think you could help her find a good book to take her mind off the spelling test?"
her best friend: "Yes! I know right where the High School Musical books are."
I knew that this was a very dangerous situation. I know that test anxiety is real. And I want my girl to know that I will always take care of her. I will believe her when she tells me she is sick. I just don't want to encourage tummy aches on test days.
I drove by the school at recess, just to see how things were going. She didn't see me. She was too busy not having a tummy ache.
The spelling test? A perfect score. And the teachers in second grade give spelling tests exactly like the teachers in first grade. Who would have thought?