Monday, September 19, 2011


A short time ago both my high-schoolers took the ACTs. For my European readers, this is a general college admissions test kids take primarily in the midwest. East and west coast require a similar test called the SATs.

Anyhoo, Grace, a junior was taking it for the first time just to see how she would do and Atticus, a senior, was taking it for the second time to see if he could bump his score a point or two which can translate into scholarship money.

The test was at 8 a.m. on a Saturday and I nudged Jeff early and suggested we go downstairs and offer to make them breakfast before they go.

When we got to the kitchen we found the following scene:

Grace was standing at the kitchen table fully dressed. She declined the offer of breakfast--she had already made herself a smoothie and an omelet and put her dishes in the dishwasher. Her calculator was out along with four spare batteries, neatly arranged next to several sharpened pencils, and her test admission ticket. She was making herself a healthy snack to have during the test break and going over the directions she had printed out one last time.

Atticus was sitting at the computer clad only in his boxer shorts. He had headphones on and was chuckling over his on-line morning cartoons. He declined the offer of breakfast because he was already eating a muffin, much of which was falling apart in crumbs down his bare belly.

There was nothing regarding the test in sight...not even a number two pencil.

None of this was a surprise of course but it is hard not get a little panicky when you see someone not even dressed, 45 minutes before a big test. So I felt I should speak up.

Me: "Don't you want to print out an admission ticket like your sister's?"

Atticus: "Oh. Do I need that?"

Sigh. Yes, 19 months apart and it's like they're from different planets. Just when you think maybe you had something to do with your children (for better or worse) you come across a scenario like this and realize they could have been raised by wolves and Grace would still be the kind of person who has spare batteries for her calculator and Atticus might even forget to take the test (oh yeah, he DID forget to take the SAT he was signed up for last June).

So parents, remind yourself today if you are gloating over your over-achiever or fretting over your under-achiever, you probably had nothing to do with it anyway.


  1. Hahaha, what a great sscene! There were some remarkable differences between my brother and me, but not that extreme.

  2. Hilarious! I can just picture the breakfast scene. Sounds so much like my own daughter & son. I help my students navigate the perils of the SAT and though they all have very unique ways of approaching it, they all seem to get where they need to be going in the end.