I hate when she cries. Actually, I hate when either of my kids cry, but somehow it effects me more greatly when my almost 15-year-old daughter is the one in tears. It brings back a flood of memories. Sometimes it even feels like I am looking into some sort of magical mirror reflecting my childhood.
“It’s not fair!” she cried last night, “you never understand!”
I tried to give her a hug in response. There were no words to solve this drama. Nothing was going to change her perception of this moment. I have years ahead of me to become smarter in her eyes.
She’s angry DW and I said no to extra classes next year. Getting her to school before 6:30 in the morning would not only be cumbersome for us, but tiring for her if she still intends to swim for the high school team. Taking after school classes isn’t an option either because it conflicts with sports activities. Plus, it was stressful enough keeping up with 6 classes, how in the world would she keep up with 7 or 8 classes? We offered a solution, one she is not overly excited about though, summer school.
“Forget it,” she snapped, “I just won’t do anything extra then and just focus on what’s required. Will that make you happy?”
“Happy about what?” I asked confused.
“Happy for me to be ordinary,” she grunted.
I feel like as a society we have put too much emphasize and undue stress on our teenagers to be exceptional in everything. We’ve sent the message that high school is practice for college, like it’s the precursor to the rest of your life when I think it should be more about finding yourself and learning how to deal with social pressures or recognizing social issues in the world. I remember it being about learning discernment and strengthening basic skills. Focusing on “the ordinary” and doing it to the best of our ability used to be a good thing. Now the kids are expected to take “zero-hour” classes before school and “7th-hour” classes after school in order to get core classes out-of-the-way and make room for more electives, electives that supposedly make them more “well-rounded”, creative and competitive.
“I wonder if there is any room for the ordinary any more, for the child or teenager — or adult — who enjoys a pickup basketball game but is far from Olympic material, who will be a good citizen but won’t set the world on fire.” – Redefining Success and Celebrating the Ordinary by Alina Tugend, The New York Times
When did working hard, focusing on our strengths and being proud of doing a good job on a few things, rather than flounder through a million things, become so ordinary? And when did being ordinary become so unsuccessful?