It has finally happened.
I have changed camps.
No longer am I one of the parents who does the happy dance on the first day of school.
Today I joined the camp of parents who dread that first day.
But let’s get something straight-
- I am not sorrowful because I miss having Ranger and Whisper around.
- I am not loathing the quiet now that Whisper is gone.
- I am not missing the constant stickiness on the counter from juice being spilt or the remains of a peanut and jelly sandwich made and eaten directly on the kitchen island instead of a plate.
No, I have joined the group of parents who dread the start of school for other reasons;
- I hear myself beginning to nag, and
- My birds were not looking forward to any aspect of school.
Sure, they humored me and smiled for the obligatory first day of school pictures, but as soon as they were finished posing, their expressions turned somber; It was as if they were headed to a funeral instead of the first day of school. (I guess it is a funeral of sorts- the death of summer vacation.)
Even the weather was marking this day as a day of change. The sky grew dark shortly after the birds left for school. The rain was torrential – the likes of which we haven’t seen all summer. In my mind, the universe was telling the birds, “See- there is no reason to be home today. You cannot enjoy the outdoors when there is thunder and lightening.”
My friend saw it differently; She felt as if the universe was matching the overall mood of families in the “camp” which I have joined.
The nagging began about one week ago (my family may disagree with this and say that it had never ended!) The end of summer was immanent. As with most parents, I too like to keep summer open ended, so that the birds are free to schedule life on their own terms. With that being said, school does begin again, and as is sadly the case, the summer breaks of today are not like the summer breaks we had back in the day. Now there are summer bridge classes and summer homework, and summer reading. And although they have-
all summer to complete it,
most students that I know
leave the work until the very last minute-
or more specifically, the night before the first day of school.
“Have you finished your book?”
“Have you turned in the assignment?”
“Do you have your supplies together?”
“Did you clean out your desk drawers?”
“Did you schedule a haircut?”
The list goes on and on and on!
Is it nagging?
From my perspective,
that is debatable.
From my perspective, It is called reminding them of those things that they really don’t want to do but should.
From their perspective,
It is nagging.
I tried putting it all in writing. I made a checklist for them. It isn’t nagging unless they hear my voice-
or so I thought.
But when the list is still not complete, and there are three days left of summer,
I begin to nag.
I justify the nagging, by telling myself that my job as a parent is to gently push them along in the completion of these required tasks.
But what would happen if I didn’t nag?
I guess they would have to suffer from the consequences, and
is that such a bad thing?
In addition to my increased nagging, is the emotional turmoil that I feel as I witness their dread of school this year.
I now get it.
(This is one of the times I am thankful that my birds take very little interest in my blogging!)
In the past, I was a proponent of “grades 1-12 fill you with the knowledge and skills you need to be a productive, responsible member of society. You will leave high school with the social, emotional and academic skills needed to go on to the next phase of your life, which, in our families case, will be college. High school classes, if you do not enjoy them, are the hoops you need to jump through so that you CAN go on to schooling in an area of study that will ignite your passions.”
I now see this as
Part of my transformed view is due to the book Most Likely to Succeed, by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith.
Now, do not think I take their word as gospel, but they did support some of the feelings I have in regards to education. Traditional education squelches passion, and does not ready our children for todays world.
When was the last time you used the Pythagorean Theorem, or needed to know the atomic number for sodium?
Does the average child feel a passion for learning this information?
Does it serve any real purpose?
Will passing a test on either of these topics truly determine whether or not our children will be happy, successful adults who can contribute to society?
Isn’t that what really matters?
In a world where suicide and depression have become common place amongst teens, why do we put so much emphasis on memorizing and spitting back useless information, that, if really needed, could be found on our phones in a matter of seconds?
So as the two forlorn, sluggish birds enter the pimped out ride (Rangers passion), as the dogs bark and chase them out of the driveway (Whispers passion), I can’t help but think-
Why does school have to be this way?
Shouldn’t it ignite a passion for learning and creating and making this world a better place using the gifts that they have?
I will continue to send them to school. I will continue to be their number one cheerleader in the game of high school, but I will also seek out opportunities outside of school which may fuel their passion more fully..
The first day was not what I hoped for any of us, but that’s OK. The sky has cleared and the sun is shining. The universe is letting me know that it will all work out.
Life is good.
It may not be exactly what we had hoped for,
but it is good.