It was on Saturday afternoon that I found my 10-year-old gloomily flicking through a fanzine in her bedroom and no further advanced with putting her school clothes away, a task she'd been set on Friday evening.
"Give me a break Dad," moaned Sarah-Jane, with all the pathos of a seal pup facing this year's annual cull, "I've got SATs next week."
This was followed by a heavy dose of SATs at our evening meal (Sulking All Through Supper).
I really don't know what Sarah had to complain about. She'd already had the haircut. No 10-year-old can face the terror of SATs without having a demi wave and the promise of highlights next year. That was how we had spent Saturday morning and we followed up with three hours watching The Eurovision Song Contest. Every time I suggested switching off, Sarah threw me her puppy-on-death-row look and said that she had maths A first thing Monday.
"Dad, you don't know what it's like to take SATs!" (Sometimes A Touch Sensitive).
Finally there was the impossibility of going anywhere for a walk on Sunday because "I've got to revise my science for the SATS" (Spending Afternoon Talking Soaps - whenever I picked up the phone Sarah and her friend Hannah seemed to be gossiping about EastEnders not particle theory).
SATs get in the way of many things that one might expect of a girl in her final year at primary school. Things like being civil to one's sister: "Get out of the way, Ginny, I can't see!" Or even sharing a bedroom with her. This indignity has long been one of Sarah's primary grievances and she used the onset of last week's SATs (Shouting At Tedious Sister) to argue that a girl whose academic career was on the line should not have to share.
On this concession we stood firm but Sarah won elsewhere - chauffeured to school each day, visit to the fairground and excused speaking to boring old Grandma. But by Friday evening, when Sarah was angling to stay up late watching Frasier with the adults, I'd formulated my own acronym: the Spoiling's About To Stop.