May 28, 2010

Get Me Off the Crazy Bus

It's the end of the week and I'm dead dog tired. This summer cannot possibly come fast enough...

My eldest got his Driver's Permit today. In Florida, you are eligible to learn to drive starting at age 15. We waited awhile to get his permit and will wait longer before he gets behind the wheel.

I don't have the nerve to teach him to drive... at all. My nerves are absolutely shot. I spent most of my time with my coping meter dang near close to pegged out, while trying to maintain an outside demeanor that all is right with my world, when in reality I am paddling like hell to stay afloat on the inside.

I can tell when I'm reaching my limit. I've taken to saying at work, when I'm just about pegged out, "I'm pulling a Scarlett O'Hara. I will think about this tomorrow."

I'd love to blame the issues I have right now with coping and stress on work alone, but it's not. It's actually probably more home related. There is a lot of stress here with school and the kids... I've not been in a good place.

I got in a fight with the head of the Science Department at my son's high school. I won (of course), but did I really? Confrontation of that magnitude is draining and that much energy for me to go in and truly slice someone apart can take me days to recover from. So... I won the battle, but at great cost to my physical/mental well being.

I'm not 21 anymore.

Bonus for me, I saw a weak link in the high school and understand where I need to keep my offense. I have hopes this is the end of it... (Special Shout Out THANK YOU to CalTech Girl, who talked me down from my tree, told me all the areas in which I was right, gave me more ammo, and was able to shed light on what I might have been seeing.)

And there is more... but, folks, I am wondering, WHAT are we doing to our children?


College is so competitive now. It's not like when I was a kid. I watched college football, listened to who was going where, got some idea on what kind of programs were offered, ordered some catalogues, looked at the front picture and thought, "OH, that's a cool design for a building! I'll go there!" and sent in my apps.

Shoot. I didn't even get turned down by any and do you think for a minute I had the grades, the classes or the SAT scores of kids today?

NO. I didn't take a prep course for the ACT. (I didn't take the SAT.) I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning after having done God knows what the night before, grabbed a grilled cheese and a pencil, drove to school, took the test and then probably went to the beach where I slathered myself in baby oil and baked in the sun, while the local radio station told us to 'flip' every 30 minutes.

Good Lord. Listen to me. This is the modern day version of 'when I was a kid...'

But it's true. Sure we had kids that were amazing and went to great schools, but they weren't as amazing as kids are today. It's just THAT competitive.

IB programs, dual enrolling, AP Classes, weighted GPA, SAT prep classes, repeat takings of the SAT test to bring ONE score up 20 points, applications with essays, interviews... and on and on.

WHAT planet have I arrived on? Where.AM.I?

My son is making straight Bs this Semester. (His A in band doesn't count.) B's in average classes, B's in Honors classes... consistent... Bs. (He has organization issues we're trying to work out.)

When is that something to be ashamed of? When? When is a straight B student, taking classes that are completely jacked up from what was offered when I was a freshman, a seriously bad thing?

He got in my car the other day and looked out the window and said, "I completely screwed up this year. My handwriting sucks. I can't read it and I can't change it. I can't stay awake in Spanish. It's so boring... I can't stand it. I made all B's... again... and NOW I can't get into ANY great schools..."

He is a freshman... he is 15. He is not a very mature 15. Adult conversation? Yes. Very. Confident speaking in crowds? Yes. But his priority right now is very social. He loves hanging with his friends.

And he's realized "I can't get into ANY great schools" because he's a B student.

There are TONS of A students. He's not one. And so he is coming to terms with the fact he won't go to some great school.

Meanwhile, I have a son that's so motivated and driven... I'm scared for him. I see what's coming... I see it like a train... not content to just be smart, he has to take full on college engineering courses his sophomore year in high school, full on college classes taught at a high school by college professors... because he wants to go to Georgia Tech so badly, and this is the way he sees himself getting in.

Push hard. Push harder. Be better. Be smarter. More. More. More.

And I want to scream at him, "STOP! YOU ARE 13!!!" I know he cannot cope with the stress. I know the program he wants requires 3 hours of sleep, great stress to where kids are on anti-anxiety drugs, and has a 2/3 drop out rate.

But I act supportive and cheer them on and fight the battles they can't win, but want to, because they're kids.

And I wonder... what in the hell are we doing to our kids?

And... it's not me. It is not me pushing.

Upon all of my eldest's classes being raised to either AP or Honors classes (one of them an Honors Junior class), the Principal pulled my eldest into his office and said to him, "Ringo, do YOU want to be in these classes or is it your MOTHER that wants you to be in these classes?"

Jesus Chr1st. I wanted to f*cking scream. I will fight to get my children in there if THEY want it, but do I want it for them? NO. Good Lord NO. I don't want him in AP history. The teacher SUCKS. But he insists. I don't want him in Honors Spanish II, but he is fighting for it. I don't want... I don't want... I don't want my second son taking Precalculus his freshman year.


But we are on this crazy bus where children are expected to read at age 4, and everyone is ready for Algebra in 8th grade, but the best and brightest are pushing through to Alg II as soon as they can, and you have to be taking college classes in high school and clep out of two years, to be getting in the best state schools, let alone anything OUT of state.

Don't even talk to me about what's required for Ivy League or those right up there with them.

It just... wears me out. I miss my childhood. I know my children love their childhood... but I think they'd have liked mine better.

This sucks.

Posted by Boudicca at May 28, 2010 09:14 PM

You loved YOUR childhood? HA! In MY high school everyone took the same classes. I had idiots in my class. Did you ever compete with an idiot? MY childhood was better!!!

Posted by: Angus of Lochalin at May 28, 2010 09:22 PM

Of course I took classes with idiots! That's why you had me pulled out of regular Earth Science. Remember... "Are you Chiiineeese?" Good Lord. What a dork that kid was.

But our advanced classes were nothing like these honors classes he's taking. I read through his poetry and lit requirements and think, "This is HIGH SCHOOL?" Holy crap.

Posted by: Bou at May 28, 2010 09:28 PM

Geez Woman...Just Chill a bit...

They will all do just fine whether you fret or not....

Just make sure no one gets anyone pregnant, and no one becomes chronically addicted to pot or alcohol....and the rest will work itself out....


Posted by: P'cola Titan at May 28, 2010 10:31 PM

Hear, hear. It's all waaaay too much. For the mothers especially. My goal this summer is for my kids to perfect the art of daydreaming. Lounging. Wasting time. Watching the grass grow. THAT'S how to spend a childhood.

Posted by: Leigh at May 29, 2010 05:57 AM

Especially hold off on driving lessons when you only

have 1 working vehicle. Mistakes are made when

learning to drive & damaging your only vehicle is a

really BAD idea.

Sine Nomine

Posted by: Sine Nomine at May 29, 2010 07:52 AM

Aside from everything else you touched on...I learned to drive at ten years of age...on a three on the tree Ford Falcon. Unbelievable...but I know people who still don't understand a clutch. Can't drive unless it's automatic. Unbelievable.

Posted by: Yabu at May 29, 2010 08:08 AM

And the whole of it is within 5 years of graduating college none of it will matter. Because once you hit the 3-5 year mark of getting out of college it's your work experience that gets you a job not which college you went to or which classes you took or what your GPA was.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at May 29, 2010 03:09 PM

which means our kid won't get into even a crappy ass school, since her maternal unit and asshole step-father are content with her Ds, and we're not allowed to be involved in her schooling at all.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at May 29, 2010 04:22 PM

There are times where I wished all my kids were as motivated as yours when they were younger. I wish I could've been able to cheer them on in their endeavors to do their absolute best but warned them not to burn themselves out in the process, to be able to stop and enjoy their childhood and life for life's sake, rather than watch them settle for mediocrity just to "get by".

Posted by: diamond dave at May 29, 2010 11:09 PM

PT- You're not here yet. Just wait. Things are different than when you and I were in school. BTW, I'm already having the pregnancy talk. "If you have sex in high school, EXPECT to be a Dad." I'm firmly against HS sex, but I can't be stupid. I have no control. I only have control over things like, their not driving a Ford Flex with fold down seats and mood lighting...

Leigh- I so want that. Bones will have that. Ringo will be busy with his volunteer work. Mr T wants nothing more than to take Algebra I this summer. Where did that kid come from?

Sine- OK, that was dang funny!

Yabu- As my Dad always said, "I can't stand the thought that there could be something out there than I can't drive." I learned to drive a clutch at 18. My next vehicle that does not require the hauling of mammals, will be a stick.

QW- Absolutely. I just need to make sure they can get a job. Nobody asks where I went to school or what my GPA was. Now they just call me for a job, because it's ME. They don't care that I went to some small school... which, btw, I love so much, that if I were to win the lottery, I'd leave them a million dollars.

WB- Well, she just may have to take some remedial courses. I think that's what the hardest job of the Junior Colleges is, is to get kids ready for college because for some reason their hs education didn't. For what it's worth, I'm a HUGE proponent of the JC program. Junior Colleges do amazing things...

DD- Point taken. And I didn't mean to sound ungrateful for my kids. It's quite the opposite, so hopefully it did not come across that way. It is the case of our society and how it's all jacked up.

I just miss kids being kids. Once you hit 13, if you want to do something great in college, that life is over. I think it's... sad.

Posted by: Bou at May 30, 2010 12:10 PM

I went to an Ivy League, with absolutely no AP classes. I had a 4.00 (plus). I didn't get into Harvard...why? I wasn't well-rounded enough. You don't have to have just grades to get into the tops schools. It helps, but they are looking at other things too. Ringo's music, the boys' involvement in scouts, Bones' love for drama...

Posted by: oddybobo at May 30, 2010 07:47 PM

Bou: I don't understand it either. You know that student I told you about ... the one who got the full-ride scholarship? He didn't get accepted to the university here in town - the one he wanted to go to so he could stay at home and save on housing expenses. They said his GPA was "just at the cut-off".

He did, however, get into the University of WA ... and they have given him sophomore status on account of the college classes he's already taken. That's really strange, since last I heard UW had stricter admission standards.

Posted by: PeggyU at May 30, 2010 11:39 PM

Anytime, hon, anytime. And I think all 3 of them are going to be fine. Mostly because you've given them the gift of being able to steer their own ships with just a bit of good guidance.

Posted by: caltechgirl at May 31, 2010 01:26 AM