Testing Season and Sainthood

SOLSC Day 24

Ahh, the Lone STAAR State. With the end of spring break we get into full-on testing season. We fast from regular schedules in favor of more disciplined stamina building test prep, the school desert. Pre-pre tests. Check the data bible to make sure we’re following everything TEA says is all good and holy. The gospels tell us what should’ve been taught by now, what still needs to be taught, what may or may not be tested and then the prophets warn us to prepare for field test questions. Testing demons attack on the day of the test(s) and even tempt kids and adults to quit before they start.

The congregation met today after school. We received intensive study lessons focused on Testing Commandments. We learned about possible sins: students cheating, teachers scoring tests, helping with test items, marking on an answer document, switching answer documents, working on a different test, stepping out of the room, lack of monitoring students, starting and stopping times, keeping visual aids uncovered. Taking a nap.

We also learned about mortal and venial test administration errors. Scoring a test before returning it. Mortal TAE (test administration error). A student in the wrong testing room before the test starts. Venial TAE. However, both testing sins must be reported to the high priest of testing commonly known as the CTC, Campus Testing Coordinator.

Ex-communication from a church at least allows us to settle our differences with God. Texas flat out revokes teaching licenses. No absolution. No redemption.

We all wear blank looks because our lesson requires us all to stare at the camera Jan Brady style. TEA gospel. We already took some independent study courses and earned our certificates. Confirmation of our ability to test students requires one more class. Some of us have been chosen to earn an esteemed designation of OTA, Oral Test Administrator. I received my certificate yesterday, a fresh parchment looking document I filled in with my name and the date ready to download and send off the the CTC.

It’s a demanding time, but we all celebrate when it’s over. One more class to go. I get to confess my training and qualifications by signing the Oath and submitting it to the CTC. One step closer to TEA sainthood.

Air Fried Marshmallows

Around Thanksgiving, my husband found a deal on an air fryer. Nothing fancy, or name-brand, just functional. I’m not a fan of extra countertop appliances besides a toaster and a coffee maker. We’re short on space in our kitchen. To avoid arguing, I gave in. He brought it home, like it was a Major Award and frrra-gee-lee. He opened the thing with the enthusiasm of The Old Man opening his leg lamp in “A Christmas Story.”

I rolled my eyes. He prepped chicken strips. We ate them, but they tasted, well, baked. My husband has a knack for chicken strips. The deep fried kind he dunks in egg wash and a seasoned flour mixture he’s concocted over the years. My kids critique restaurants on their chicken strips, the only thing they order off the menu. If they’re as good as or better than Dad’s, we add it to the list of favorites. This time, they were dry and nowhere close to what we’re accustomed to eating.

Then I opened my mouth. Not to say they tasted bad, we all knew they did, but to discuss the air fryer. I suggested he return it. You would’ve thought I took a lollipop away from a kid. Or a bone from a dog. Or Twitter from…never mind. Anyhow, I asked “What’s the difference between this and using the oven?” I should’ve kept my mouth shut. I surrendered, he found space in the pantry to store it, and we compromised. A few days later, he made chicken wings. Those were delicious.

One evening, he came home with a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers, and chocolate bars. It was a nice evening for hanging out in the backyard around the fire pit. The kids prefer to stay inside glued to their devices. Unless there are s’mores. We enjoyed the evening and I didn’t balk at the kids eating more than their share or toasting extra marshmallows. We’re still in a pandemic and I might as well let them enjoy it.

I put away the extra s’mores ingredients for another evening. But where would I put them so the kids wouldn’t smell them and devour them before the next perfect night for s’mores? I found a spot for the chocolate and graham crackers, but I needed to find a different place for the marshmallows. I’ve run out of good hiding places; my kids are that good. I mean, I thought I was smart when I hid my pint of double chocolate ice cream in the bag of frozen broccoli. Until they found it.

In a rush, I put the bag of marshmallows in the cooking drawer to the air fryer. They’ll never look there. The new appliance was perfect. It was only temporary anyway. I planned to move them later.

One Saturday, my husband busted out his handy dandy air fryer to make his new favorite recipe for chicken wings. My youngest passed through the kitchen to the backyard to jump on the trampoline. My husband seasoned and prepped, whistled a jolly tune, and pre-heated his faithful companion. When my kiddo, who has a bionic nose, skipped into the house, her eyes searched the kitchen. “Ooooh, marshmallows. It smells like marshmallows. What are you making, Dad?”

I brushed her off. “Marshmallows? What do you mean it smells like marshmallows? You’re imagining things.”

“It totally smells like marshmallows,” she commented as she ran up to her room. I kept sipping my coffee, scrolling away on Instagram.

A few minutes later, I heard a few choice words from The Most Patient Man in the World, who hardly ever uses choice words. He started grumbling and slamming things, shouting “Who put marshmallows in the air fryer?”

At that moment, I remembered my clever trick. I countered, “Who the heck doesn’t open an oven–air fryer–before they turn it on?” I laughed as I explained it was a new hiding place and I forgot I put the bag there.

He held the cooking drawer with the bag of perfectly toasted marshmallows nestled inside, the plastic warped and baked into them. “It’s nonstick, it should be fine. Dump it in the trash.”

“Wait, I wanna see!” S came down to inspect the marshmallows. She wanted to eat them. We said no. The trash got them. And the chicken wings came out fine, without a trace of sticky marshmallows on them. So much for a new hiding place.