Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reflections of An 11th Grade Parent

It is June 19, 2014.  It is the end of what can only be called the longest and hardest year.  Parents of older kids have often recounted how terrible 11th grade was, but as much as you can imagine the worst year, you can't possibly.  Having two children going through it at the same time multiplies it, but not by much.  The difference between kids today and when I was a kid?  We hardly sweated anything out.  We did our work, got our grades, took the SAT's and went to college. We didn't put a ton of thought into what it all meant.  Today's kids think about their futures all the time.  There is a heavy burden not only to get great grades but to hit the College Entrance exams out of the ball park.  And still, it's all a crap shoot.  The amount of promotional material that colleges and universities send is ridiculous as if because we receive their glossy magazine, we will choose the school.  Just like applying to private schools in New York and many other major metropolitan cities, it's not really our choice.  We can only present our best selves. The decision is all in the hands of the institutions.  

I digress.  The point is that from September to June of 11th Grade, it is without question the most arduous and stressful year.  As a parent, all I can do is provide quiet, meals, support, tutors.  I can't do the work and, to be perfectly frank, they are far smarter than I.  I hate that the children can't relax and enjoy their high school years.  These are supposed to be the glory years of childhood, but they've turned into uber stressful years. The lack of sleep is ridiculous. If schools would only take a poll and realize that children aren't getting anywhere near the amount of sleep needed to grow, be strong and healthy.  Is it possible they don't realize it?  The kids don't like to complain to teachers and principals.  They complain to their families.  Somehow the schools have received the message, that I definitely didn't send, that tons of work is the way to become productive adults.  I don't feel that way at all. I resent all the homework.  Always have.  I don't think most of it is valuable.  I understand math homework.  That makes the most sense, but if you don't have a good math teacher, it's useless and frustrating (which is how this year was for some of us).  

Anyway, 11th grade is far worse than you can prepare yourselves for and to what end?  We just finished a full week of finals.  Finals?? The kids were studying everyday for a different subject and studying way into the night.  The horror stories from Moms and Dads how little sleep their children have gotten are plentiful.  I think it's ridiculous.  With all that's at stake for 11th graders, the schools should ease up and help balance the work load.  There is plenty of time to sweat things out in college and then all of life.  Schools aren't interested in doing that.  Schools want to pile on.  A teacher asked me recently, how am I doing?  I had to laugh because though I didn't have to study for the finals or take the finals, I was equally as stressed watching my kids and their friends sweat out the week.  She completely understood.  They made it, we made it, we wait for their final grades and assessments, and they are now Seniors!!  Oy vey!

Sidebars: Now, it's summer break, and the World Cup is everywhere.  It is one of the best times in NYC because World Cup fever is contagious.  Every bar and restaurant has their TV tuned to the games and the flags of the countries are all over the place.  It's what makes New York City so unique.  The Big Apple has someone living and working here from every country playing. Everyone cares and it's infectious.  It's very exciting and a great diversion.  By the end of the Cup, I may even understand all the rules and intricacies.  Summer television is starting to pick up.  It's been very dreary waiting for new series and old to begin episodes.  I really am going to try to watch Orange Is the New Black, but not thrilled to watch on my computer.  I still think the best family show is America's Got Talent.  If you are looking for a throwback variety show, give it a go.  There are magicians, dancers, singers, acrobats, and anything you can think up.  Jersey Boys, the movie, opens this weekend.  I'm in, are you?  My kids are turning 17 next week.  I am flabbergasted.  Where did the time go?  It's a funny dynamic being a parent.  Your whole job is to prepare them to leave you and stand on their own and, at the same time, you want to lock them away and keep them safe.  Enjoy the first day of summer!  Keep breathing!

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