Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't worry, there's also the Potty Pass

"Mom, don't worry," my son reassured me last night. "There's also the Potty Pass."

"YOU are DEPENDING on THAT to pull up your Biology grade in FRESHMAN year?" asks his sister, her jaw hitting our limestone floor. "Mom, your son won't graduate from high school and that's that!"

My daughter, the drama and dance queen, is back after her first quarter at Northwestern University. Her AP BIO grades in high school wouldn't have got her the Nobel but, wait a minute, we're talking about bombing freshman year.
She always refers only to her Freshman and Sophomore years.

"In Freshman year, you can't get anything but A's."
"In Freshman year, which idiot bombs Biology?"
"10th grade math, Trig Honors, is such a joke. It's for babies."
"Sophomore English? I slept through it."

But when I say, "Sweetie pie, come here, let's talk about 11th grade," she's nowhere to be seen. Has she apparated to Chicago? Because I've been looking and I can't find the broom.

In our home, subjects like grades spark spontaneous combustion and allergic reactions. Sometimes they bring on the flu–or, as in my daughter's case, the floo powder. And at most Indian-American homes–assuming we're talking about the sane, everyday-fare Indian–the day begins and ends with looking at something called THE ONLINE GRADING SYSTEM.

At most high schools, parents have access to their kid's grades through the school website. The access to the system is password protected. This is typically accessible to parents until 11th grade at which point your kid will go in and keep switching the password on you many times over exactly around the time the progress report is due to come out.

The online grading system is how I power up and end my day. My morning cup of French Roast from Cupertino's potent Roasted Coffee Bean in hand, I turn on THE SYSTEM. I don't need breathing exercises from my Art of Living workshop any more. My son's grades keep me in shape. I inhale sharply as I type in my password, hold for around 30 seconds and release when I see that the grades are on the other side of the B mountain.

Of all his numbers, his Biology grades give me the hot flashes month after month. The labs seem low on oxygen. When the marker for his labs points to zero again and again, I tell my son I'm feeling the onset of the Vaso-Vagal syndrome.

He's concerned, he's such a good boy. "Mom, don't worry. I forgot to put the date. You get a zero until you put the date back in. I'll handle it."

Another time he ponders the situation as if he were Gregor Mendel. " must be a technicality. I may have forgotten to write my name on the top right hand corner of the paper. So I'm sure my paper's in the "No-name" bin. I'll handle it right away."

Ye another time, he muses: "There's something wrong with the Scantron system. Look how I'm acing the essays."

And that's how, as we inch towards the end of the semester mark, our son has begun to bet on the proper functioning of his urethra: if he doesn't take a bathroom break, he will get an additional 10 points. (And that's not forgetting the Kleenex points: if you bring a box of tissues, add 10 more points to your Diffusion lab)

But look at the bright side, friends. When your biology grade depends on holding your bladder for eighteen straight weeks, you know your career choice likely lies in Economics, Chemistry, French, Music, Math, English or Physics. Or Driver's Ed.

High school is about finding what you want to do in your life. The potty pass is taking us closer than ever before to finding the truth.

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