Well, here it is at last, almost. The SATs are pretty well the first exams we've ever met, and therefore we haven't truly met 'Exam Conditions' before. Teachers have been talking about this for months, with phrases such as 'There's no need to be nervous' and 'Some people think this is terrifying', clearly all designed to palpitate us into an early grave by way of myocardial infarction.
So we have this thing called 'Mocks' which is where you do last years' exam under these new-fangled exam conditions, and then the teachers get to identify the pupils that run away, wet themselves, stick pencils up their noses and go wibble, talk incessantly, hyperventilate, sleep, or otherwise stray from the straight and narrow.
So for the first exam of the week, we did English Comprehension, where you read a passage and answer questions on it. Child A has a new hairstyle and talks to himself sotto voce, where sotto voce is loud enough to be heard in the next room. So we did our exam to a constant background hum of 'OK, so that's question 3 done, woohoo, wonder what question 4 is like, gosh isn't my hair all groovy and cool'. Child B cannot shut up, ever, so he was disqualified from the entire exam for babbling even while being told to shut up. This may not be something he gets over until he is dead, and several of us wanted to help him down that shining path.
A member of another class walked up to the front and demanded to urinate so loudly (the demanding, not the desired urination) that he was placed in a neighbouring room, from which he could still be heard whining. And being disqualified. Yet another saucy student produced 2 1/2 litres of silent but deadly marsh gas from his rear sphincter, not all distractions are noisy. Now, while generations past may remember gymnasia full of neatly arranged single-person desks with studious silent students busy filling their fountain pens, being patrolled by a Sports master and a Latin teacher each with canes, it is no longer the case and you're not able to train a child to be quiet in 2 easy moves by hitting him on the back of the head every time he talks. So we wonder just how the teaching staff will provide us with a calm environment in which to sit our exams, without giving us all our own toilet cubicle on different planets.
Later my class visited the same church where I spent Saturday night and we heard about easter, and how celebrating a dead Arimathean was so much better than the pagan fertility festival that preceded it. Then I brought Ben home and nobody had graffiti-ed on our gate and we went to the park in the glorious sunshine.