Friday, May 18, 2012

Pride & Parenting

According to Garrison Keillor, in Lake Wobegone "all the children are above average."

Apparently, they are in my town too.

My tween daughter is about to graduate from middle school, and the pending move to ninth grade has everyone — parents and students alike — a little stressed out. The high school is a big scary place, with four times as many students, some of whom are as old as eighteen or nineteen! There are electives and AP courses and varsity teams. And, from the moment you walk in, colleges are watching you. Yep, from here on in, everything counts. 


The other morning, I received an email inviting me to a meeting with high school peer mentors. These fine, upstanding students would enlighten eighth grade parents on the social and academic transition we were about to embark upon. This was the good news. The bad news was that the meeting was that very evening, giving us in essence nine hours notice. (Really, this is so very par for the course that I don't even know why I'm surprised anymore. Just when you think you have things under control, you know where you need to be and when — bang! — they sideswipe you with an "important" meeting. But, I digress.)

Although I had some work to wrap up and was looking forward to a quieter than usual night at home, I rallied and got to the high school library about ten minutes before the session was scheduled to start.

We were split into discussion groups with twelve or so parents assigned to a team of six sophomore and junior students. I was so impressed with our young leaders! They were well-spoken, thoughtful, and self-possessed. They seemed to have an innate (or very well-rehearsed) sense of what was appropriate to discuss as a group and what warranted a respectful suggestion that parents schedule a private conversation with a guidance counselor or the school's social worker.

The parents in the group? Not so much.

As usual, the attendees were mostly mothers. And, despite the fact that the students had notes prepared and a prescribed agenda, the moms quickly took over the meeting. Here are just a few of the types of "questions" they asked ...

"How much is too much? My daughter was placed in all honors. Y'know, Honors Bio, Honors Geometry, Honors World History, Honors English, Honors Spanish."

(Let me guess, she's a smart kid?)

"My son is already playing varsity soccer. How can I make sure he's on the traveling team and not stuck with the other freshmen?"

(Your son is quite the athlete, eh?)

"We're coming from Prestige Elite Prep Academy. I'm concerned that my daughter will not be challenged enough. What should I do?"

(I get it, your kid has already been doing high school level work. Oh, and now I know you have a bit of money. Thanks.)

Notice how these comments were phrased as questions, but really came across as proud pronouncements? The issues may be legitimate ones for each of these well-meaning moms. But really, couldn't they wait and speak about their oh-so-unique offspring's oh-so-unique situation later? Later and in private? 

Is this what I have to look forward to for the next four years? Ugh.

I'm proud of my daughter too, but I don't crow about it at meetings. Instead, I do what any respectable modern mom does: I blog about it. For the record, she also qualified for high school honors courses. 

I'll spare you how many and which ones. 

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