Last night, we went to high school prep night at the school, put on by the PTA. Our PTA president is fantastic. She's unpolished, but certainly there and busy and devoted as all get out. She spoke for a while, including her own story of raising twin sons who are in college now. Then, there was a lady from a tutoring company that came in and gave a really good talk on good study habits. After that, the counselors from the two high schools that our middle school students will feed into spoke. They were both good speakers as well, different in their presentation as their schools are.
After I heard all that, my first thoughts were, I'm going to work my rear end off, just trying to keep grades up. I'm going to have to argue and threaten and give consequences. And, Rob's going to be right there with me and we are not going to like it. And, it will make our lives harder.
I thought about it some more and I realized that a lot of that could be avoided if we reduced the challenge. If we accepted that our student is not going to be a doctor of nuclear physics with a secondary degree in applied spacecraft mathematics, working as the sole designer of the new NASA "take us to Pluto" space vehicle. Or even probably a lawyer. I want her to do better than me. I want her to have a fun job. I want her to like what she does and if she doesn't like it, to have the opportunity to change to whatever she would like. And, I'd like her to enjoy high school. Oh, not too much. Not smokin' in the girls room fun. Not even a cheerleader or the rockin' party girl. But, having time to work on the homecoming float, not being restricted from spring dance, being able to play sports, kind of fun. With good grades and a happy homelife.
And, that likely means dropping some of the advanced placement classes.
I say that without one word of regret for how hard we have pushed her up to this point. We gave her challenges and she has met them. And, she has struggled against her own proclivity to play too much and she has borne with our pushing and challenging and trying to get her to "want to" do better in school. To "want to" make better grades. To "want to" not be on restriction. To "want to" get her ipod back.
So what if she excels in regular classes. Isn't that better than stumbling and fighting along in advanced classes?
Isn't it better to accept who she is and let her exceed her own expectations?
I know, going into this, that she does not have the organization or study skills yet. Last night, she watched me take notes at the event and I asked her if she know how to do that. And, she doesn't. And, that's not really my fault. I mean, I have a life, too, and I can't know everything she needs because she will not tell me because if she tells me, I'll do something about it and that means more work for her and she just doesn't..."want to"...
Are ya' gettin' me here?
I know some of you are. I've read it on your own blogs. You've watched kids stumble and you've adjusted your expectations. And, having been with us for 5 years, what we're looking at now, is the kid we raised. It's not the kid we got 5 years ago who couldn't read and was far behind and had no concept of consistency and expectations. We changed all that and now, she's the kid we'd want to have, even when she's a pain in the arse. I wouldn't change her personality, just to get her to study.
We've challenged her up til now and maybe it's time to let our instincts play instead of our expectations. We've seen that she is an average student in advanced classes. Imagine how much she should be able to excel in regular classes. So long as we keep up the pressure and give her as many reasons to "want to" as we can. Because if she ever thinks that we'll let her be average in regular classes, we're sunk.
So, there is some danger in reducing the expectations. I guess we'll just have to see. I asked her what classes she'd rather have as regular and she said math and history. That means she'd keep science and english. I think I can live with that.
And, Rob and I are talking about it. Neither of us wants to let go of the comfy retirement that our nuclear physicist could give us. But, I think we're both tired of the constant battle for higher grades.
Have a great Tuesday.