With a surplus of sharply sharpened #2 pencils, a calculator filled with four fresh AAA batteries, four extra backup batteries, and the proper documentation, no child of mine will be left untested. We pull into the parking lot. Buses with the names of the surrounding counties vomit up more young victims. We pass a sullen kid sitting semi-hidden in front of the back left wheel of his car, drawing in a relaxing smoke, creating a little island of freedom on the pavement of the stress-filled, tobacco-free campus. I hope the juice pack straws work for my kid.

I bought all the snacks she thought would get her through. I snuck in the whole-grain version of the Goldfish crackers and Fig Newtons to give her that extra edge.

But the real edge I give my test-fearing kid is this:

Just do the best you can… Aunt C. freaks out on tests and got into grad school when she explained her horrific GRE scores to the dean… Here are some test strategies… I think you get 200 points just for printing your name… Let me tell you a funny story about my friend in college with the math phobia… I’ll be happy with whatever score you get…

Because I have a friend who is happy who stayed out all night in the rain, drinking wine in Paris with some guy the night before she took her SAT’s (Es, Ah, Te’s?). I did well on mine, and have often worked as the pawn of people who can’t spell SAT.

It seems that there is a lot of competition lately to get into colleges that will prepare you for the imaginary world of picking which of your dream jobs you’d like upon graduation. And maybe it’s the unfulfilled hippie in me that doesn’t believe that all the people who stayed on the best-college, prime-white-collar-career path stayed true to themselves.

When the scores come in, I may see that my daughter isn’t learning in the standard way according the standardized testing standards.

But last weekend, she couldn’t put a book down.