Monday, June 16, 2014

Sophomore Slide

Only seven days, two hours and thirty-eight minutes left (not including Saturday and Sunday), and my teenage daughter will be released from the bondage known as sophomore year. She would be completely elated — if she weren't so completely overcommitted and downright exhausted.

In the next week and change, she has regular old homework, a major paper due and five final exams. She also has two different part-time jobs and a concert. Plus, she has to pack for a vacation that starts the day after school ends.

And, last but by no means least, she has The Rime of the Ancient MarinerYou know ...

"Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."

Always looking for a soapbox, I will (once again) protest the utter absence of women authors — or in this case, even women characters — on the Honors English reading list.

Back to the topic at hand; the end of sophomore year. I feel sorry for my daughter; I really do. But, this is not the time to give in to sympathy. Rather, I must remain ever vigilant, honing my maternal nagging skills (which are quite accomplished already) to their very sharpest. My daughter has worked so hard and done so well for so long. This is the last gasp, the grand finale, the final quarter, the ninth inning.

Enough with the metaphors, mixed or otherwise. I think you get the picture.

The thing is, in her head, she knows there's more to do. But, in her heart, she is done. D. O. N. E. Done, done, done. And so are all her classmates. Besides a challenging curriculum, they've had to deal with school board politics, new rules from a new administration, bomb threats, dress codes, and their first taste of standardized tests. 

All in all, sophomore year has been a suckfest. And now?

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

As if my poor daughter needed another albatross around her neck.

Friends of mine advise me to leave her to her own devices. After all, she's done well so far, right? If she did crash and burn, it would be a good learning experience. Blah blah blah.
These friends fall into two categories: childless and multichild. The first don't understand the pressure. And the second gave up a while ago.

We are all so stressed out about grades, transcripts, college admissions. We know better, but we still fall prey to the anxiety, the all-or-nothing sense of pending doom. In just the last week, I've heard two different cautionary tales about promising kids who didn't get in to any of the schools they applied to because of one lousy grade or one botched exam. 

Meanwhile, my daughter's doing her own math. I got a text last week (midday, from school — don't get me started) that read:

I know this is bad but hear me out, if i get a 50% on my chem final i will still have an A- for my final average in chem and thats all colleges see

How to respond to that? At first, skimming as I multitasked, I thought she was telling me that she got a 50% on a test she had already taken. (I almost had a heart attack.) Once I understood, I was impressed by her math and by her  proactive calculations. At the same time, I was distressed by her lack of drive (and non-pursuit of excellence). I know she's not as concerned (obsessed, okay, the word is obsessed) about good grades as I was. But, seriously.

After all, what did she expect me to say? "Good job, girl! Go for that 50% then!"

Sorry. I'm trying not to nag. But, that ain't never gonna happen.

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