Oh, dear. The Daughters; they are exhausted. We are all tired of this business called “high school.” It should really be renamed “high stakes” because that’s what it feels like and any adult over the age of 35 who says that public schools, or students, or kids in general are lazy or who have it easy have no idea what they are talking about. (That’s a run-on sentence for those of you that routinely skipped English class. I never skipped, so I already recognize this. I also recognize my hubris and refuse to change any other grammatical or structural errors because I’m feeling ornery. Go ahead. Break out your red pen. I'll wait.) These naysayers should take a few of the classes my kids are in because they’d be hamburger before the first session is hits the halfway mark.
When I dropped them off this morning my kids were sort of comatose. Both girls worked on homework heavily the past few weeks (including the weekends) and it’s like it just never ends. Papers, reports, Powerpoint presentations, art projects, ceremonies, concerts, and the list continues on and on, ad naseum. Thank goodness I have a computer, printer, paper, ink, ruled note cards, and the gas to get them where-they-need-to-be-when to pump this stuff out. This is not Tiger Parent stuff, this is just the basics to get it done.
This Daughter took her first stab at the SATs this past weekend and she’ll hit it again in October. She already is assigned two books for an AP English Lit class when school lets out. I have a whole folder of the stuff she’ll need to accomplish this summer in preparation for her senior year. You know, “to do” before she even enters the 12th grade.
It’s so ridiculous I can’t even believe I just typed that. I just had a WTF moment.
I have been observing friends’ kids that were older than mine and what I realized is that high school doesn’t just require your kid working really hard; aka “Take all the AP classes!” It takes strategy. Which classes to take, how to not overwhelm and overburden the student with those class choices, how to show continuity in their extra curriculars, do some volunteer work, how to fit in anything fun with their friends (good luck with that, turns out the friends are just as busy), how to have down time to regroup (especially if your kid is the type who needs that to function—also, good luck with that) and how to understand the policies, the admin, and the teachers who are so vital to their success. High school now is all about college prep/what-you-plan-to-do-with-the-rest-of-your-life from the very second they enter those doors in freshman year. It’s not about discovery (they’ll say it is, but they lie), it’s not about slowly getting used to your adolescence (they say it is, but they continue to lie), and it’s not about a lot of things that you think it is (you say it is, but you’re lying to yourself). Our society expects you to be a fully actualized young adult by the tender age of sixteen. You need to have completed a Senior Project that will save the polar bears' from balancing on their tiny melting icebergs and in your spare time have found an alternative energy source for developing nations using only a jock strap and a mirror.
Are there Super Alphas who do these things? Sure there are. Awesome. But I worry about my kids and I worry about your kids, because they aren’t all Super Alphas. They are incredible human beings that are not fully formed and they aren’t being given a chance to just experience that. “Have you picked out a college yet?” is a question they never stop hearing until they are done. Our kids are whisking through each school year, going from test to test to test to ever loving test. I'm all about getting them to reach their full potential and the stars and all that. I know I’m not alone in saying that I can’t help but wonder what they are losing in the process of all this. I do know that they are tired. We all are.
I thought about not posting this because....well, orney. But it's almost officially summer so let's make a small effort to make a difference: the next time you chat with a high school student change your questions up. Ask them what they are enjoying now. NOW. Not what classes they have, what classes they will take, or what college or field they plan to enter—ask them about how are they feeling today and what do they love to do right now.
Let's lighten the hell up for a little bit, shall we?