The perils of Western Civ

Disclaimer: Mike gave me permission to write this. Actually, he said, “Are you going to blog about this?” When I said that I didn’t want to post it because I figured he wouldn’t like it, he said I should.

Sure, Mike is making good grades. But have you ever thought about the process by which that happens? Here’s a glimpse at four different tests Mike took this semester, all in his Western Civ class.

Test 1: Mike freaks out, claiming he doesn’t know any of the material and that he is going to fail. He gets surprisingly short-tempered when he’s stressed out, which means he was in rare form as he snapped at me. He also tends to back out of plans when he gets stressed about a big test. I remember how stressful testing can be, and I know Mike is still getting the hang of being back in school again, I felt sympathetic, if slightly miffed. I will admit to some hurt feelings. However, when he got his grade back and he made a 90, I was hopeful that he’d be more confident for the next one.

Test 2: Boy, was I wrong. This was definitely the worst study session of the four – the last day for Drop/Add was the day after the test, and Mike again got really snippy and kept claiming to want to drop the class. I said, “Why don’t you take the test first and see how you do, then, if you think you did really poorly, you can drop the class.” He kept going on and on about how he didn’t know the material and what a horrible professor she was and how stressed out he was. And (he reminded me as I was trying to get the facts straight for this entry), he spent more time complaining, looking at the list of other professors who teach the class, and looking up their scores on ratemyprofessor.com than he did studying. Anything I suggested was wrong, and, again, I got a little miffed, got some hurt feelings. After the test the next day, he called and said, “I think I did fine.” My respose? ” . . . ” “I know, I know, I’m sorry.” ” . . . ” “I just got a little freaked out.” “This can’t happen again.” “I know.” Test grade? 90.

Test 3: For this test, my plan was to just ignore him completely. “Kari, I’m going to fail!” would be met with complete silence, because I figured out that no matter what I said, it would be wrong. And, actually, I was cleaning the kitchen or something while he was at the kitchen table studying, and I remembered enough of the material to be able to help from time to time. There was still a bit of freaking out, but nothing like after test 2. And apparently my help paid off, because the final test grade was 103. (Look, I deserve to take credit for it, so don’t argue with me about it.)

Test 4: Somewhere around tests 3 and 4 I realized that part of the problem was that Mike didn’t do the reading until the night before the test, which is why he was so stressed out. “When I was in school, I didn’t do the reading until this one Economics class when I had no idea what anyone was talking about . . . so I did the reading and found all the material in there. I was like, ‘Did you know if you read the book that you can understand the class discussion?’ I now pass my wisdom and information on to you.” Mike didn’t care. I was baking muffins while he was studying, and I tried to help a bit, but he was too freaked out for me to be much use. I went to bed as he was studying (read: “falling asleep”) on the couch. He seemed pretty concerned the next morning, but okay after the test, and the next night, when he got his grade back, he turned to me with a sheepish grin and said, “101.”

Final grade in the class: A
Other pertinent statistics:
Pissed-off wife: 1
Mostly unused textbook: 1
Apologies: 1,000,000
Number of times I claimed that Mike deserved an Oscar nomination for his theatrics: at least 10
The look on Mike’s face when I admitted that so far his GPA is higher than mine: Priceless

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