“Will you not love me if I fail my SATs?” asked daughter three the other night. Daughter three is struggling with maths. She has been doing SATs tests for weeks and is feeling a bit down about the whole thing. Apparently the government has moved the goalposts and you now have to get something like 35 out of 40 to pass, according to daughter three. I’m not sure what the point of this policy is, but it certainly doesn’t seem to motivate kids. Daughter three has more or less written her chances of ever being good at maths off.
I assured her that I would love her eternally, even if she got a zero in maths [or even a minus four], and that I would also love daughter one for ever if she completely flunked her GCSEs [she was listening in] and that one lot of exams does not a lifetime of failure make. I have been going through the test papers with her every night to try and explain things to her and boost her confidence.
None of the younger kids likes to compare themselves to daughter one’s academic achievements so daughter three asked how daughter two did in her maths SATs. She is pretty sure that daughter two is not very good at maths. We all recall daughter two’s long and painful struggle with distinguishing between odds and evens. Daughter three grasped the concept way before daughter two. However, daughter two pulled out all the stops and did quite well in her maths SATs and remarkably well in English, given that she got about one out of 20 in the spelling part. She is apparently a whizz at grammar. This was no consolation to daughter three. I told her not to worry and to get some sleep.
I was tucking in only son, who had crashed out earlier, and mentioned that he had very beautiful fingers. “Do I have beautiful fingers?” came a woeful voice from the other side of the room. “Of course you do,” I said. “Every part of you is beautiful.” I told her not to worry about anything and mentioned in passing that her dad was not renowned for his prowess at maths. I have set up a SATs test between daughter three and her dad for this weekend. I’m pretty confident he will not get 35 out of 40 and I’m hoping that will make her feel a lot better. “Will you love him any less if he fails?” I asked.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.