Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
To My Son on the Morning of His Scholastic Aptitude Test

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I insisted on driving you to the test site
not because, as I told you,
this weather would make parking a challenge,
but because I wanted to escort you as far as I could
to the entrance of the high school where,
as I drove off into the gray rain of this January morning,
I could look over my shoulder and watch you walk toward the door,
your pack flung over your shoulder,
your pack full of everything the College Board told you to bring:

An admission ticket and photo ID,
Two #2 pencils,
A calculator.

But you brought other things too:

A creativity no test can measure,
A confidence that you are more than your score,
An assurance that one day tests like this will be obsolete.

You know what obsolete means.

Not because you memorized vocabulary words on flash cards,
but because you read Vladimir Nabokov and David Foster Wallace
for fun

You know how to hold two
diametrically opposed ideas in your mind
at the same time:

This test is important.
This test is inconsequential.

You know what inconsequential means.

In a few hours I will be back there, in the parking lot, to pick you up.
Already the rain is easing, the sun breaking through
the gray, formidable sky.


Rebecca Lanning, a former editor and advice columnist for Teen Magazine, lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband, Frank Godwin, and two sons, Will and Tate. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Brain, Child Magazine; The Washington Post; and 27 Views of Carolina Friends School. As a 2014 cast member of Listen to Your Mother: Raleigh-Durham, Rebecca celebrated her mother’s effort to embrace the digital age.


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With two teens in the house, I resonated with this poem so much - the test-taking so not an accurate measure of all that they really are. I will revisit this again next year when the SATs become a reality.
Beautiful poem! It brought tears to my eyes as I can see the love and depth of knowledge you have when it comes to your son. Having recently dropped off my 5th grade son to test for the SSAT (a private middle school test), and seeing how scared he was at taking such a standardized test (3 hours long!), your words deeply resonated with me.
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