When your kid starts high school, you sit down and have a conversation with them and let them know that if they work hard and adopt nose-to-the-grindstone study habits, they’ll be sitting pretty with a 4.0 GPA and a long list of colleges competing for their attention.
Well, here we are, three years in, 4.0 intact and a pile of mail from colleges coming every day. (Although that’s no doubt due to an email address jotted on some questionnaire that was recirculated a hundred times over, leading to schools such as Carthage College and the Colorado School of Mines to somehow think a soft-spoken band geek might be interested in attending.)
What isn’t intact, of course, is my daughter. I mean, she’s fine. But she’s been through the academic wringer. A half-dozen AP (advanced placement) classes over two years and this kid is ready for some down time (which she won’t get, of course, because she’ll be starting Lancers right after school gets out).
I’ve seen her at her worst this year. Angry — mad at the world, mad at teachers, mad at her little brother, mad at mom and dad, mat at herself — to a degree I hadn’t seen before. Tears — sobbing devastation painted with the certainty that the results of some random test have doomed her forever to junior college. I’ve seen her struggle with whether she’s good enough to cut it in these tough classes.
I’ve wondered if she’ll make it through the year without having a nervous breakdown.
But I’ve seen something else, too: the discovery of new things about herself that, had she not accepted the challenge of these last two years, she’d never know.
For example: Despite being the child of a “writer” (I’m throwing quotes in there for those readers and coworkers of the opinion that calling myself a writer is a bit of a stretch), my daughter neither inherited my love for writing nor has any urge to do it any more than she absolutely has to.