My friend Derek recently asked me: “What were you doing in high school?” He was responding to an admission I’d made that I couldn’t help my son study for his science test because I don’t really know the Periodic Table. “Mom, that’s not how you ask the question,” my son had told me during my quizzing attempt. He said it in his non-judgmental way that preserved my dignity. (My otherwise sweet daughter probably wouldn’t have been so gentle). I told Derek that I’d never learned it. The fact is, I’m sure it was taught at my large, public, urban high school, but I was busy being cool, hanging with the popular crowd of older, cool girls–some who were doing their work.
I am a semi-introvert and quasi nerd, although that word hadn’t yet been created. I wasn’t touching that part of myself in high school. Before those years, I loved to be in my imagination, to make up stories with my dolls (yes I was still playing with dolls at 13, although on the low, until my mother became concerned and gave them all to her friend’s daughter, Lucille.)
Forty years later, we are living in a highly taxed suburb, where a large majority of funds go to our my our large, public high school, which my son attends. The high school is the tale of two schools where top students, who also have parents who know the system, go to top schools; bottom ones–many who have loving parents who don’t know they can fight the system–get ignored and the middle ones–who have parents who know how to fight achieve some kind of success.
My son is popular. He is emotional intelligent–although the school doesn’t test for such. I’ve told them they should. His grades this year are very good and, perhaps, he could be working harder, which would put him in the top-tier. When I suggest bumping up to higher honors level classes, he says, “Naw, I’m good.”
When tell him that I didn’t push myself in high school and that now I regret it (albeit higher level math was never going to happen). He responds: “And you’re a best-selling author.” Hmmm, but, I tell him, with a tiny bit more effort and support you could do even more complex math–he has the aptitude. He gives me his look that says what he used to say when he was little “I know stuff…” which I now understand means I know a lot, including subtext and I don’t have to prove anything. Oh boy, this sounds inherited.
So, as we’re wrapping up the school year and it’s time to meet with the high school counselors to plan that “important” junior year, I am a little anxious; honestly, only a little. I’m hoping to find an appropriate academic program for part of the summer. One that he won’t hate too much. He wants to play in the basketball league he and his friends are creating. He will continue to play baseball, as he has since he was four.
I’m not sure where the idea for this post came from or what the point is (I do try to have one when I write these), but here it is.