Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Adventures in Real Parenting: Orientated

Okay, so now the first draft is done.  Bring on the list of reasons - excuses really - for why all work on the novel will come to a standstill.
Today's excuse:  The Mom Thing

I had to wake early to ride to work with MathMan and attend Nate's Freshman Orientation. He's going to go to MathMan High School for reasons practical and otherwise.  I went to show that I'm making at least the minimum effort of engaging in his education.  A couple of months from now, I'll point back at this morning and shout "I do too care!  Why else did I go to that meeting?"

And he'll say "The Orientation in August?"

And I'll say, "Was that it?  Yes.  See?  I care!"

The reality is that MathMan will be more closely tied to Nate during the next four years. We've kind of planned it that way.  It's not that I don't care, but we've reached the point where what these kids are learning, at least in the math and science subject areas, are way beyond my limited abilities.  I'll be here to offer moral support, pack nutritious lunches and to remind Nate not to backseat his dad too much on during those hour long commutes.

The program reminded me why I'm glad Nate is attending such a diverse school.   The school -grades nine through twelve - is public and serves a mixture of middle, working and struggling classes, black, white and Latino populations. The staff is reflects the student population.

That school belongs to everyone.

While the administrators and staff demonstrated pride and excitement about the high-achieving students, there was a real effort to encourage all parents to help their students achieve. "Whether you see your student going to college or trade school or something different, it's never too soon to start them thinking about how the decisions they make now will affect their future."

It's pretty simple advice, but oh so important.  It's probably not so very different from the messages being repeated in every school offering orientation in the coming weeks.  It was good to hear even though this is our second time around the high school thing.

I tried to remember the messages given when Chloe was a high school freshman.  Five years can wipe out a lot of memory, I guess, because, while I'm sure the messages were similar, they didn't stay with me.  Part of that might be due to the expectations a parent has for his or her children.  We had high expectations for Chloe, but her personal expectations were even higher.  With Nate and Sophia we've been more relaxed and it shows.  They aren't bad students, but they don't freak out about the occasional B or C either.

Being who I am, I had to poke fun at the extensive clothing restrictions schools now have.  I understand that as a society we've really let our standards slip, but some of this is just too silly, too let's take ourselves a little too seriously.

"I certainly hope they don't include boobs in this 'no sagging' rule," I stage whispered to MathMan.  "Hey!  Maybe I could get some of those zip ties for my knockers, cinch them back up into place.  It's cheaper than surgery."

You just never know what's going to make MathMan's face go all ashen.

On the way home, Nate and I discussed the morning's programs and expectations.  I asked him what he expected from himself.

"My goal is to graduate with G.P.A. higher than Chloe's," he replied.

Behold the awesome power of Sibling Rivalry.  The bonus is that once he's said this, he can't go back.  She'll make his life a misery.

How about you?  Did you/do you set high expectations for yourself?  Do you need to use Nate's orientation for an excuse for not getting something done?  Do you need a nap?  Or maybe some zip ties?

His future's so bright.......


  1. "It's pretty simple advice, but oh so important." Amen to that. Talking about goals, discussing possibilities is SO important!

  2. Don't worry about the high school experience, your son's peer group (similar to gangs but not quite) will take of him and will provide all the guidance and new values he needs - as perceived by them, of course.

    Your main (only) function is to provide a bedroom which is off limits to you, food and a steady flow of twenties.

  3. Yes, I do need some zip ties. Yes, please.

  4. My daughter, now a Senior, told her cousin, an entering freshman, that she should actually do all the work and make an effort. She figured out that it was worth it after it was necessary to make-up some bad grades in summer school, and when she realized she was shut out of some school she would have liked to go to...

  5. I managed to set fire to the place where they kept my permanent high school record. It helped it was written on birchbark.

  6. The school sounds fantastic. I can understand why MathMan would love it and why you'd find it so important for Nate. That's wonderful.

    As for zip ties, that'd be overkill for me. I think a couple wee bits of tape would suffice.

  7. i could certainly use some zip ties but for a totally different reason (i'll let you wonder about that lol)

    sibling rivalry is a great thing. Mom and Dad never played me against the girls it just seemed so natural for us to do it ourselves!

    and it worked out pretty good for all three of us (except Sheri moving ot Minnesota to be with that loser non husband of hers but hey who am I to judge lol)

    Looking forward to reading more about Nate's Adventures In HIGH SCHOOL

  8. I absolutely must have goals--something I am working toward in the long run, otherwise I just sit around bored and useless I think ;~)

  9. My goal was to survive high school without getting beat up (I was new to the city, an import from a cow town known only for being the home of a school for the mentally challenged.)

    I actually managed to exceed that goal, make a few friends and become quite the little "head," if you know what I mean, and still come out near the top of the academic heap.

    Go figure!

  10. I think that first child always has the grades pressure *on* -- while the younger siblings usually don't feel the same anxiety. Great that the sibling rivalry has inspired him, though of course I'd rather he be inspired to learn than to reach for some arbitrary number. But hey, whatever works!

    As for the "start thinking about your future now" thing, I actually disagree with this cultural preoccupation and pressure, especially because I've seen it done elsewhere in the world in a way that encourages students to find their niche and their passion -- without already starting to freak out about how they're going to "make it" in life and whether every potential action while, let's face it, still a *child* must be analyzed for its consequences 20 years down the road.

    I think it's sick, a sign of an inherent cultural darkness. There, I've said it. But the zip ties sound brilliant. ;)

  11. okay, first...leave that draft alone! you don't need any excuses--this is an order! let it sit for as long as you can stand (um, within reason), and you will be amazed at the different perspective you'll have when you get back to it.

    also, I totally teared up at this post. was I crying about the thought of my own little precious darlings on their first day of high school? hell no. I sobbed because freshman orientation is right up there with those damned back-to-school flyers in my mailbox or that whole section of Target where I can no longer go...a reminder that my blissful summer non-routine is finite and short-lived. siiiiigh.

    (I've always been an over-achiever, to answer your question, but it's only in the last few years that I've found the value of setting goals for *myself* instead of fitting myself sort of sideways into the expectations of others.)

  12. I am unfamiliar with this "goals."

    And I don't tie my zippers. Sheesh.

    And and what's with this sibling rivalry via grades? Where's the hair pulling, spitballs and unseen gut punches?

  13. Congrats on your novel being done. I am so happy for you. You should be so proud of yourself!
    And you prove that sibling rivalry isn't always a bad thing.

  14. Ooops - busted. I should be painting, and instead I'm reading your blogggg..... Gotta go now.

    Loved this post. We're doing end and start things here, too - as you will see more of in Moominlight. Round and round we go - in the school things and in our heads. Being a parent is never being done with a decision - you get to live it over and over again until you ain't livin' no more. Thanks goodness we're mostly OK with the decisions - and our kids can gift us with results that exceed our hopes and dreams. That makes it more than all right.

    Really gotta go paint now. Can't wait to see any portion of that novel...

  15. Great answer.

    War Eagle Nate!

  16. Good luck to Nate. And a good thing he set his sites high. Yeah, sibling rivalry can be a good thing. Having said that, my brother and I had no rivalry, which is pretty cool as well.

  17. Those high school years zip by in the wink of an eye. Best advice our high school had was apply for every fricking grant & scholarship you can for college & take as many AP classes you can because it is wayyyyyyyy cheaper than college courses.
    Even a bunch of small scholarships add up.
    Well, he;s got a few years before that big college push happens..... but you'll be there before you know it.

  18. I think it will be the same in our house. My wife won't touch Math or Science and I won't touch English. So we have been splitting the duties on the oldest. Still waiting for the other 2 to catch up but we have time.


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