The most important thing

Mollie's stomach felt like it was sinking towards the centre of the Earth. Her Year 6 teacher was explaining about the SATs. Just after Easter, there would be a week of tests in Literacy, Numeracy and Science.

Mollie was worried. She liked school, but wished it didn't have tests. "Why do we have to do them?" she asked.

"It's to find out how much you've progressed in the last few years," replied Miss Acton. "I'll be giving you levels based on your normal classwork too."

"So why do we have to practise for them, if they're just supposed to show how we are?"

Miss Acton smiled. "Think of it like this. Do you remember our class photograph? You didn't slouch in front of the camera with messed-up hair, did you? You wanted to look good and be your best. It's like that for the SATs. We want you to do the best you can, and that means knowing how to read questions and answer them well. There's a skill to looking good for the camera, and there's a skill to doing well in tests. Don't worry! We'll teach you the skills."

As she trudged home from school, Mollie felt like one of those scared rabbits that gets caught in the headlights of approaching cars.

Her family were all busy when she got home, but it wasn't long before they were gathered around the dining room table. When everyone was settled, Mum lit the Shabbat candles and said the blessing, as she always did on a Friday night. For a rare moment, there was peace. Shabbat had begun. Everyone was quiet as Dad cut the special bread and poured the Kiddush wine. He said the blessings over the bread and wine, as he did every Shabbat.

When the food was served, they all started talking again. Dad turned to Mollie. "Well, what did you learn about today?"

"SATs," she replied glumly. "I hate tests, and we've got a week of them coming up. Yuck!" She made a face.

"Well then," said Dad, "you know what to do. Work hard, do your best. But remember we're proud of you anyway. You're kind to your brothers, and you care for your pet rabbit as well."

"And do you know what the most special thing about you is?" asked Mum.

Mollie shook her head.

"That you're our daughter!" Mum and Dad gave her a hug, and she smiled. Yes, that was the most important thing of all.