As I mentioned below, the oldest daughter is doing her Leaving in a few weeks. It's incredibly stressful - for the parents. From what I've been able to make out there are two distinct stresses that parents suffer at this time and they're mutually exclusive. First you have the stress of watching your little darling struggle, suffer, working hard, pouring over texts and scribbling away. You worry that they're working too hard, putting too much pressure on themselves, overdoing it. You worry.

The other stress is, to my mind, more serious. This is caused by excessive laybackedness (my own invention) on the part of the student. Your offspring seems to think it's in the bag, they're working - occasionally - but still finding plenty of time to not be all that worried about the exams that are right around the corner. This is a much more serious stress for parents because those who are suffering the first kind are really just playing at being stressed whereas those in the latter category are nearly ill with worry or hitting the bottle - hard.

I can't help but think that parents in America have it made compared with this. At least you've had years to be able to accept what was coming, but here you can't be sure of anything until you get past the results phase sometime in August.

(And, there is no make-up. If they do badly or fall ill, they have to wait 12 months to take the exams again - at a significant additional cost. See what I mean about stress?)