How exam season is turning me into my toddler
Exam season is tough, for most people it means hours in the library and living in a constant state of stress/guilt and procrastination. I am a 2nd year history undergrad and a mother to a truly amazing child, over the past few weeks i’ve observed some very stark similarities between my own behaviours and thought processes and that of my nearly 3 year old son. We all know that babies are essentially small drunk adults but what I’ve observed is that 3 year olds are essentially students in exam season, all emotions and feelings intensified, frequent tantrums, and when given the opportunity to let their hair down they go well and truly wild. Of course those are sweeping generalisations and I can only speak from my personal experience so here is a list of my increasingly toddler like behaviours
I feel really emotional all the time
I don’t whether it’s the stress or the exhaustion but adverts make my cry uncontrollably, I even had a tear in my eye watching The Clangers on CBeebies, and finding a long forgotten about chocolate bar can bring me such joy My son is a very emotional child, as are most 3 year olds, at the flick of a switch he can go from being perfectly content too hideously upset over something as simple as being offered a drink. I
I don’t want to leave the house
Nobody likes leaving their bed in the morning, doing so just reinforces the fact that you have things to do, impending deadlines to meet, notes to write and people to avoid. No one knows this more than my 3 year old. Despite rising at the crack of dawn he will do just about anything to avoid getting dressed, eating his breakfast and putting his shoes on. The socks are ‘too blue’ he wanted the porridge in the pink bowl not the orange one and his shoes are simply unsatisfactory. It takes some serious will power for me too insist that nursery is not a prison but a pleasant way to spend a day when I don’t want to get up and face the journey to University either.
I want to eat the same things everyday
In the days leading up to my exams I really really don’t feel like cooking, all I want is quick easy convenience food that requires minimum preparation and is neither time consuming or horribly unhealthy. This philosophy I share with my toddler, who, If given the choice would consume porridge, cheesy pasta and blueberries for all 3 meals. The difficulty arises when I suggest any variance in either of our diets, but then again,
I can only be productive in very short bursts
Revision is hard, it requires concentration and dedication wading through vast amounts of reading material, seminar worksheets and watching hours of lecture capture in order to come to the conclusion that you’ve spent 4 hours in the library and feel like you only know marginally more than when you first arrived. I find that despite having spent all that time revising the amount of time i’ve been productive or actually concentrated comes in about 15 minute bursts of inspiration. My toddler has a concentration span of about 20 minutes max on a good day until whatever activity he’s focused on becomes boring and is discarded into the heap of other noisy plastic items in the middle of the living room floor
I get so tired I cant sleep
You spend the day concentrating, thinking, writing, typing, stressing and when the sun goes down its time to crawl into bed and hope for the standard 6/7 hours of bliss before facing a mountain of exam revision tomorrow. But the reality is that you close your eyes and immediately know that you wont actually get much sleep because your too damn tired. This sentiment is something that my son also feels, he’s come home from nursery, utterly exhausted from all the painting, singing, story reading, mud pie making that he can barely keep his eyes open while consuming yet another bowl of cheesy pasta, but as soon as his head hits the pillow his eyes open and the flow of requests/demands start to flow. ‘I is thirsty’ ‘I need a poo’ until I give in and set up my revision station in his room until he falls asleep.
I could win prizes in procrastination
So far I’ve watched 3 seasons of House on Netflix, cleaned the house, straightened my hair (written this article) in order to avoid having to do any work, work that I know I should do, and when it comes down to act actually quite enjoy, but the thought is too horribly overwhelming I don’t really feel like actually doing it. My son can put off bath time like a true procrastination professional, if it was a degree qualification he would graduate with a first. No doubt about it. We have to find his toys, then clean his teeth, then get his pjs ready, wait not those ones but another specific pair that appears to have vanished of the face of the earth, but in order to avoid any confrontation (see earlier ‘very emotional’ description) you have to trail around to the house until you find the pjs stuffed into the bookcase, presumably by the mischievious toddler himself, by which point the bath is cold and you have to repeat the process again.
So, In conclusion, Uni is hard, being 3 is equally hard. They both come with their unique challenges, its unsurprising that we’re both very emotional. But in reality my empathic response towards my child has become way more acute. I understand how he’s feeling as I feel that way too, he simply expresses it in a louder more extrovert way, but that freedom of expression is healthy. The next time he feels like tantrum-ing in the middle of sainsburys because he’s feeling great things I might just join him.