The Conversation

If you go way back and think about Monday, I wrote about a decision I made in regards to my college daughter. I just assumed what I am about to write would happen on Tuesday, but who knew the topic would reveal so many hidden truths and opinions. So today I am going to tell you conversation that I had with my daughter.

My Daughter told me she was thinking of coming home in a few weeks. There were two days in September when she would be free of commitments. Two days.

I asked why she wanted to come home. She said didn’t have someone to do something with on Friday or Saturday nights with.

I get this. I do not make friends easily. I am not good at small talk. I am not good at injecting myself into a group. And if I’m not now, I was hopeless at that task when I went to college. And yet, we all know I managed to make amazing friends.

My daughter marvels at how some kids just instantly form into a group. I had to explain to her that these are not really friendships: they are simply a group of people who fell together on the first day and whether or not they have anything in common they just group together because they do not want to be alone. There is nothing wrong with this action: it gets you out and in the game. I did this in college. I told my daughter about my experience. I also told her that I do not even remember the names of the girls on my floor that I hung out with those first weeks. I am not friends with them on Facebook, where you are literally “friends” with your neighbors work colleagues dog walker. And we all know that I made the most amazing friends in college that I still talk to till this day, often multiple times a week.

I also told her that I did not really hang out with these amazing women till I was a Sophomore. I knew them, but didn’t recognize how special and amazing they were. I explained to her that making real friends does not happen overnight.

My daughter has always had friends. In pre K she was inseparable from A- they were together every day after school for the entire year. Years K-2 brought about S. Then third grade happened, the year that kids really start to form personality. This is the year she became besties with R, who to this day remains her very best friend. This was also the year I noticed my daughter was on of the popular kids. I remember walking into the school cafeteria one afternoon to do something for PTA. There was my daughter at the lunch table in the middle, with the ten or twelve girls that everyone wanted to be friends with, the girls that all the kids at the tables surrounding them were looking at. This was a bizarre sight for me because I never sat at the popular table ever. I sat at the table in the back and ate my lunch as quick as possible so I could escape outside.

Then middle school came and my daughter was not  the “popular” kid, but the “smart” kid  who was in charge of everything. But she had friends: R from elementary school and a host of new best buds. High school- still the smart kid who was involved in everything. Had a really nice group of six girls, plus a bunch of others just outside the main group.

My daughter has always had friends. In fact, she has always had good, solid friends for she has chosen wisely. Her teen years were not filled with frenemies, but with kids she could count on.

So not having made friends yet is a new and interesting experience that does not always feel good. But she won’t make friends coming home on the weekends.

At the time I had the pivotal conversation with my daughter, it was early going: she’s barely been in class for six days. Club fair had not yet happened. Community service programs had not yet started. No one had even thought to form a study group yet. She really hasn’t had the opportunity to make any friends. Her roommate is a lovely person, kind, respectful and clean. But she doesn’t like to go out at all, so my daughter has no built in wingperson. It sucks, but it’s life: you don’t always get someone to hold your hand.

I told her that if she wants to have friends, she has to do something about it. It might entail smiling, which is not a sexist manipulation, but just a way of letting people know that you are approachable. Do you pet a snarking dog? I don’t. I pet a dog who looks friendly. Smiling does that too. We don’t always need to be stone faced.

Talk to people.

Have conversations.

Say Hi to the kid that sits next to you in class.

Introduce yourself to the kid in the elevator.

Tell someone you like their shoes.

Ask someone if they want to form a study group.

Ask someone if they want to practice for the moot court audition.

Do something.

It is probably 75% in your control if you make friends: some people are going to say no. Guess what? Rejection is a part of life. If everyone was afraid to talk to someone else, life as we know it would cease to exist.

But you have to be part of the game.

And sitting in your room in NYC is most definitely not putting you in the game.

And on a side note, my husband is Disneyland Dad: he just says “yes” to everything. If she had called him instead of me, she’s be coming home next weekend. So why did she call me, who she knew would say “No”. Cause maybe she really just needed a pep talk….

You’ve got to know your kid.

 

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Culture Club

I would be remiss if I spoke of adult children without speaking of differences in culture. As Shallini pointed out the other day, it is customary for adult children to live with their parents until they are married. To do otherwise would be radical. And I think there are places where multi generational living is the norm. Some places, the youth take care of their parents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this way of thinking: it is just counter to how I’ve grown up.

So, when Shallini asked:

“What if she wants to move home?”

My first thought was:

“No &^#$^ing way”

Because, unless there is a legitimate reason, I have zero expectation that my daughter will ever live with me full time again. First off, I know she does not want to live with me when she gets out of school. Second off, I don’t want her living with me when she gets out of school. I love her….but…..in 21st century America that just doesn’t fly.

How does western society treat adult children that live with their parents when there is no legitimate reason? What do we really think?

Well, Big Bang Theory had Howard, who was continually mocked for living with his Mother, which he did until he married. He was seen as a man/child and routinely mocked. How many women want to marry a guy in his thirties who still lives at home? Who has a Mother that cooks for him and does his laundry? That’s the kind of guy that you tell your friends NOT to go out with. You see a guy living with his parents you scream TROUBLE….ISSUES…..

I had a friend from high school, a woman, who did not choose to move out of her parents home until she was about 40. I will tell you that this was a very weird dynamic and there were issues with her that did not constitute the living arrangement but signaled something was very wrong in her head. The red flag was this living arrangement and her parents did nothing to help her. Correction: they thought her living with them would help her.  This story ends with too many pills and a too early death.

As one blog friend stated yesterday, they have a friend who is in their sixties and still working hard to support a child in their thirties. I’ve heard of many such cases. Is this the new normal?

Or should we start to change out outlook, look towards a more Eastern way of thought, and consider multi generational households? Is there a benefit to many layers of a family residing under one roof? Incomes pooled together, helping one another out when needed?

Is Western society too focused on the individual other than the collective?

So my questions for write my blog Thursday:

What is your opinion of adult children living at home when there is no good reason (saving money for a short term basis, sickness, recent separation and need a place to crash short term)?

Why?

 

 

 

Where is the Line

So I blindfolded my daughter, drove her in a white van with dirty windows to a remote spot in the woods. We walked five miles till we were in the center. and then I spun her around ten times. I walked away, instructing her to count to 100, then remove the blindfold. This was her new home.

OR

I drove to Washington DC, a city my daughter loved so much she applied to three separate colleges there. To a school she really wanted to go to and screamed “YES” after receiving her acceptance letter. We drove through a posh neighborhood, and into the gates of her hallowed campus. To her dorm we went, the good dorm that she wanted with a private bathroom. We spent six hours decorating her room with all new things, met her incredibly respectful, sweet and clean roommate. She had a schedule full of her first choice classes, and a relatively inexpensive bill for rental textbooks. This was her new home…

As we continue on with the discussion of the past two days, we have to focus on what we do as parents, what responsibility we have to guide them. Every parent has to decide what is best for their child. Each child is an individual and has to be treated as such. I know my kid. I know that I can give my kid a nudge and she figures out what she needs to do to survive.

But I also realize that some kids can not be pushed quite the same way. Some kids need a little more coddling- it’s just the way they are built. After 18 years, you know who your kid is, what their strengths are and where their weakness lies. As parents we need to help them develop their strengths, and deal with their weakness. I know this is hard. I have been there. How do you help your child develop, strengthen, or enhance their weak points? I know my daughter needs to learn how to survive as an introvert in an extrovert world. This is why I made her stay. Coming home is not going to help her deal with that issue.

But I want you to think about something else. Does your child need the extra attention, or do you as a parent need to perform the extra act? Are you helping a child solely for your own benefit? We’ve all heard of stage mothers, parents who so want their children to be stars because they never were themselves? Parents who are living their lives vicariously through their children? Parents who can not separate from their child? At some point, the umbilical cord must be severed, for both parent and child.

So whether or not you let your child come home from college for a weekend doesn’t matter. What matters is the why. Why does your child want to come home? What ails them? Why do you want them, or not want them to come home? What’s the reasoning?

No good decision was ever made out of fear or guilt. You can talk to your heart, but use your head to make the choice.

PS- On this day I remember the friends, colleagues, classmates and humanity that was lost 18 years ago today, when I was seven months pregnant with my daughter. My thoughts are with those affected by the events of this day. Peace.

 

Why?

Yesterday I told you that I told my daughter that she could not come home from college till Thanksgiving. Some of you came straight out and said I did the right thing. No one said I didn’t do the right thing, but I could tell…..they weren’t thrilled with my answer. And a bunch of people wanted to know “Why”. Why did I say no?

Ok.

Here’s the WHY.

The job of a parent is to teach their child how to live without them. Seriously- you are a successful parent if your child is able to leave the nest and prosper. And by prosper I do not mean make a million dollars, or start Microsoft, or be the President. Prosper means doing things for themselves: having a source of income and an abode and some sort of goal, even if that goal is binging shows on Netflix. Choosing reasonable friends and mates (but yeah- we screw up there 50% of the time, cause no one has a relationship crystal ball- but that’s ok cause they’re out there) Prosper means taking care of your health and home. Sewing a button. Making pasta. Cleaning the toilet. Eating healthy.

That’s the job description: must teach how to clean the grout in the tub and fold a fitted sheet.

That’s all practical of course. Your kid must learn how to do all the things you routinely do. Which means that you do not go to their house and do all those things…

Seriously- don’t do your kids laundry once they move out.

Now, along with the practical comes the emotional. Which is where my decision comes in.

I miss my kid. Of course I do. She spent almost 18 years in the bed down the hall, and way to long in utero before that. She is my debate partner. We recommend books to one another. We go to cultural events together. We had tea together every night so we could talk out our days. So of course I would love her to come home.

But what does coming home accomplish?

What does it really teach her?

Someone suggested that it would reassure her, to be able to know she can come home. But does it really reassure her? Or does it signal that I don’t think she can hack her new life? That it’s OK to run home at the slightest “misfortune” because Mommy will take care of her….

Shouldn’t the goal be to teach her that she can, is totally able, to care for herself?

Which is why I said “No”.

Remember when kids were little: how many band aids did they go through? They were still getting their sea legs, which cause them to fall. Running too fast, doing things they shouldn’t. My daughter would be covered in Dora the Explorer band aids…..Until she learned how to walk more confidently, and learned when to run fast and which situations could be dangerous….then she didn’t need as many band aids. She was solving the root of the problem. Coming home is a band aid. It covers the problem, masks it, but doesn’t really solve what caused the scrape. Coming home is essentially running away. If she is not at school, how is she learning to deal with what ails her at school?

Running away. Do we really want to teach our children to run away from problems? Run away from things that scare them? Emotionally I mean. If Godzilla is running towards you by all means RUN….

Don’t we want our kids to confront what’s in front of them?

Do we want them changing jobs because they don’t like their boss? I mean continually. I had a friend who used to change her job every year because of personality differences. Trust me: that story does not end well.

Do we want our kids giving up on relationships because their is a little bump in the road? While there are clearly times when divorce is necessary, do people give up and walk away a tad too easily?

Do you move because you don’t like your neighbor? (true story- my sister has a friend that did just this recently- and we’re talking selling a house)

So big picture: what lesson do I want to teach my daughter?

I love her. She knows that. Every action she takes dictates that she knows she is loved immeasurably. Her strength, character and resilience show that. I love her, but I am also tough with her. I am her parent, not her friend.

I want her to continue to be strong.

I want her to continue to be confident.

I want her to continue to be resilient.

But she needs to be a few hundred miles away.

Because while I am always there for her, I can’t always be there for her. She has to find me in her heart, not resettle herself in her bedroom down the hall. “Mommy loves you, but you don’t need me anymore. You got this.”

That’s why.

“No You Can’t Come Home”

Ok- this is like a flashback sequence: I gave you a hint in the title as to how this story plays out. Let’s now give you some background…

Text conversation:

D: How are Peter Pan busses

Me: I don’t know. Why (translation IDK Y)

D: I might want to come home on the 21st

Me: No. You can’t come home.

D: You’re not letting me come home?

Me: Nope

D: Seriously?

And the discussion went on like this…..

So- My daughter wanted to come home for a weekend and I said no.

This was truly my Cruella DeVille moment. Telling my daughter she could not come home was akin to making a coat out of puppy skins.

What Mother tells their kid not to come home?

Well, me….

My daughter is homesick. According to my research, about 67% of first year college students are homesick during their first semester. She’s in the average. Most kids are homesick….

So what do we as parents do about it?

Well, I don’t know what other parents do. This appears to be a dirty little secret: there are tons are articles about kids being homesick, and how that is almost the norm, yet if you actually ask people….No one has a homesick child. Everyone has a child who is TOTALLY adjusting. So everyone who actually speaks about this topic is in the lucky 37% of kids who experience no homesickness. The parents who have kids in the 67%- well I guess we’re the silent majority…

And just when I thought parent competitiveness was over, I see it’s found its way of rearing its ugly little head even when your kids are no longer actually residing in your house…

But anyway…

So what do you do with a homesick child?

If you’re me, you tell them that they can’t come home till Thanksgiving.

You tell them that you have to confront your fear, confront the demon that scares you.

You tell them that this is always their home, but yeah, you’re not letting them back in for awhile.

Do you know how horrible this made me feel?

Do you know how I wanted to jump on the train and race down to her? Hop a flight out of LaGuardia and I’d practically be there in two hours…..

I wanted to hug her and tell her that it will be all right. Mommy is here.

And really, I am always here for her….

But I just can’t rush in to fix everything.

I guess this is like that baby sleep method where you let them cry it out and you don’t rush into comfort them. I totally failed at that one. She cried. I took care of her.

But now…..

She cries, but I had to let her.

Am I doing the right thing?

Who knows.

As with all things parent, I am doing what I think is the right course of action. Trying to teach her, and help her grow into adulthood. Letting them go is so hard. My daughter thinks I’m being cruel. And, I guess I am. Sort of. But I hope I’m also teaching her how to be strong, to rely on herself, to be confident.

To be an adult.

The First Fight

“I’d love it if she just knocked on her neighbor’s door and introduced herself.” my Husband said. He’d said this phrase about 15 times during the four days of drop off/parent orientation.

“You’re obsessed with her making friends.” I replied.

“WHY WOULDN’T I BE?! I JUST WANT HER TO BE HAPPY!”

We hadn’t even reached the Jersey Turnpike and we’d already had our first empty nest fight.

Seeing my daughter cry when we said good bye unnerved him. He’d already been sad, and that just undid him. I obviously understand his feelings: after all, she’s my baby too….

But here’s the problem. If you talked to my daughter, she was/is not worried about making friends. She was/is worried about academics. My Daughter is used to being the smart one, the kid who got great grades. Now, well, it’s a different fishbowl. Now every student graduated in the top 10% of their class, they all were 99th percentile in standardized tests, they were all captains and presidents and showered with accolades. She’s most worried that she won’t be able to keep up….that’s why she’s anxious.

The friends thing: first off, my daughter has never been the “popular” girl. But, she had friends, good friends, all the way through school. She had kids that she could rely on, who were solid. She might not be a social butterfly, but she is very able to make acquaintances and friendships. This wasn’t really a worry.

“SHE NEEDS TO GO OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE.” was the next comment he screamed.

I looked over to him. “She’s in a new city and state. She’s sharing a room with someone she met on Friday. She’s about to take college level classes. She needs to find out where the CVS is. Cleaning her own bathroom. Doing her own laundry. Figuring out how best to organize her time now that everything is different.” I took a deep breath. “Do you think any of that is in her comfort zone?”

He relaxed a little.  “It would still be nice if she went out of her way to meet people.”

Which led me to my next thought, which was clearly a bubble in my head because I didn’t want to engage in the introvert/extravert see saw. Why do people think being an introvert is bad? Why do they want to change us? Why is it bad that my daughter has no interest in knocking on people’s doors?

Why does he think my daughter needs to change?

Why can’t he accept who she is?

As a parent, you need to love and accept your child for who they are. If your child is introverted, you can’t make them change. And obviously, there are a thousand other examples of allowing your kids to nurture their nature. They are who they are: accept them, love them and help them become the best person they can be.

On a side note. My daughter has the greatest roommate. She has been hanging out in the floor common room and met a bunch of nice kids. She contacted a girl she met during the roommate search and is meeting her for coffee. She’s doing fine socially.

Classes began yesterday and so far, so good. Her professors seem nice, though she found out that “Bleak House” is a thousand pages long so she’s not too thrilled about that….

And there you go…..

 

 

I still Haven’t Cried

As we said good bye, a big fat tear rolled down a cheek.

But it wasn’t my tear, nor was it a tear of my Husband.

It was my daughter who cried the first tear. My stoic, tough, low on visible emotion daughter.

Who saw that coming? Certainly not me.

There I was, tissues in hand, waiting to bawl my eyes out. But then I saw that tear, I took a deep breath, and I went into Mom mode. I was thankful for all the sports movies I’ve ever seen as I gave the pre game pep talk: I’m so proud of you, you worked so hard for this moment, you are prepared for the battle ahead. I made a self deprecating joke and my daughter followed it up with a wise crack and a smile, and as I hugged her that final time she looked at me and said

“I’m good.”

I gave her a thumbs up and watched her walk away from us, across campus towards her dorm so she could change out of her dress from convocation into an outfit more acceptable for the afternoon orientation events. She didn’t turn back.

It’s then that the whining started. Not my daughter’s: she was practically skipping down the steps. Nor was it from me. It was my husband.

“She could have walked us to the gate.” he said. “She didn’t even turn back around to wave.”

So I didn’t cry. I consoled him. I talked straight to him.

“She needs to make a clean break. She still loves us. But this is the time she needs to become an adult. She needed to walk away from us in the middle of campus. She needed to head off into the future and not look back.”

“Well” he said. “I don’t like it.”

We got back to the hotel and loaded our stuff in the car, saying good bye to the concierge who had been consoling parents all morning. We began to drive north.

I did not cry.

We got home and greeted the pets, ordered Chinese food and put some things away.

I did not cry.

I met my friends for lunch on Monday, Mother’s who had just performed the same dropping off ritual that I had. They cried. I did not.

I dropped off dry cleaning yesterday- my dry cleaner sends her son off to college for the first time on the 30th. I watched her eyes well up as she spoke to me, because we are sisters in this: I know how she is feeling as she knows how I am. As I patted her shoulder I did not get weepy, I did not shed a tear.

Alas, as I spoke to my very special friend last night, I spoke of how I have not cried….yet. I know it will come- it’s inevitable. But I need to still be strong for my daughter. She is adjusting well so far, and I know when classes start today she will get better. She likes the routine that classes and activities give her. Neither one of us does well with unstructured time- we like routines and planners and all things like that. We like busy. So she will shed no more tears. She will thrive in her new environment of new studies and new friends.

Then- it will be my turn to cry.

 

 

Search For: Roommate

Prolougue:  Our heroine clicked the button “Accept” and the roommate search was done.

Chapter One: When I went to college, there was one way to find a roommate- the college sent a questionnaire, we mailed it back, and a month before school began you received a name and an address. Welcome to your roommate. Now- there are all sorts of ways. Most of my daughter’s friends found roommates through their schools official Facebook page. Some ended up with friends of friends, or classmates from their High School.

Chapter Two: My Daughter’s school does it a little differently. Students fill out an online questionnaire and are then matched with about 30 people based on their answers to certain questions. You are then supposed to reach out to the people that interest you.

Chapter Three: Stress: OMG emailing total strangers? What do I say?

Chapter Four: You have the ability to write a “profile” a short paragraph that basically describes who you are. This is not mandatory, but my daughter did write one. She also had the expectation that the person she would room with would also have written one. So immediately upon receiving her matches, she was able to eliminate about fifteen names. She also eliminated anyone who appeared to be a partier- just not her thing.

Chapter Five: Stress- How do I know what answers are red flags?

Chapter Six: My daughter ended up sending notes to about ten people. Five responded. This annoyed her a little that some people didn’t even have the courtesy to respond back. Now, they could have had an issue with the system, some kids did. But really- how do you not respond at all…

Chapter Seven: Stress- What’s wrong with me that people don’t want to reply? Am I too uptight? Too urban? Too perky? Not perky enough? Do I look like a nerd?

Chapter Eight: She ruled out one girl right away. She just knew the fit wasn’t right.

Chapter Nine: Stress: Is she sure that girl wasn’t right? Am I basing it on that her social media profile pictures would not correspond with the person that I am?

Chapter Ten: Continual conversation with one girl who seems more social than her. Girl seems nice.

Chapter Eleven: Stress. This girl is really into the sorority thing. She almost went to Tulane and Ole Miss. Will she be too outgoing?

Chapter Twelve: Rule out nice, but probably too outgoing girl and concentrate on other three. All seem nice. All have much in common with our heroine.  Two of the three want to be lawyers. All on the history/government track.

Chapter Thirteen: Stress. One girl has almost no social media profile. Is this a red flag? Did she scrub her profile? Does she have a secret profile? Is she just out of the loop of a teenage girl? My gut instinct is saying No. But we’re oddly similar…

Chapter Fourteen: Our heroine has come to the realization that any of these three girls would be fine, even the low social media one. But she is still unsure if any one of them is better than another.

Chapter Fifteen: I, the Mother, is starting to get stressed because the deadline for a roommate is Monday and I don’t want her to get a completely random roommate. I want her to decide, because there’s that quote- the devil you know…. With these girls she already has an idea….do you want the great unknown?

Chapter Sixteen: My Mother is driving me crazy. Doesn’t she know how stressful this is?

Chapter Seventeen: One of the girls has popped the question: Will you be my roommate?

Chapter Eighteen: Stress. This girl seems fine. There’s no reason not to room with her. Why is it so daunting saying Ok? Maybe because I just got home from prom and I’ve been up over 24 hours straight and my feet hurt? My makeup stayed on great though.

Chapter Nineteen: Mother perspective- OMG just tell the girl yes or no. But remember tick tick tick

Chapter Twenty: Will literally live with Charles Manson and Ted Bundy clones just to get away from the crazy maternal roommate I have now

Chapter Twenty One: Did you accept her yet? It’s not fair, not letting her know.

Chapter Twenty Two: *&%$#@

Chapter Twenty Three: I make some sort of hand gesture to my daughter.

Final Chapter: A roommate is chosen- a very smart government major who wants to be a lawyer and is from Florida.

The End

But don’t worry: Sequel to follow….

And So It Goes

Today is my daughter’s last day of classes.

Which alternately means that it’s the first day of my teary journey culminating in graduation.

When I perceived the this week’s theme, I did not envision that I would write one of my most controversial blogs ever, or that the week  would become doggate. It was supposed to be about how we treat one another- which I guess it basically was.

My daughter brought home her yearbook this week, and she allowed me to read some of the things her classmates shared. As I perused this book this week, I knew how the post’s this week would end.

As I read through I noticed a lot of “hard working” and “smart”. The NHS President thanked her for being the best Secretary, and realistically, best President, ever. But along with all the expected tributes to her intelligence and work ethic, I also noticed these:

  1. Thank you for playing Mariokart with me before school sometimes. I know you get to school early to do work, but you always took time out if I looked lonely
  2. I remember walking into a class where the desks where formed into tables. I was sitting alone and instead of joining your friends, you sat with me.
  3. Thanks for making me feel welcome to the tennis team. I was so happy that you sent me a text over the summer telling me that you would meet up with me to go to the first august practice. I was scared and you helped me out.
  4. Thanks for being best law team captain. You always helped me when I would freak out.
  5. Thanks for helping me study
  6. Thanks for proofing my papers
  7. Thanks for always answering my question no matter how stupid
  8. Thanks for being a great listener
  9. Thanks for being a great friend
  10. You have a great smile and you use it

There were more, but you get the gist. Sure, my kid works really hard. She gets good grades. She is involved in many aspects of school life. But she also took the time out to be nice. She took the time out to make sure people felt included. She tried to make people feel a little less scared. Maybe she made someone’s day just a little bit better….

I have done many stupid things in my life. I have not always been the best wife, mother, daughter or friend- my imperfections abound. But somehow, even though I feel like I continually screw up or let others down, I have managed to impart the good parts of me to my daughter. And as I have very few good parts, this is almost miracle status.

Somehow I have managed to show her how to be a decent person, who has self confidence, yet is able to be empathetic and kind. Just don’t ask me how I did it, because I have no idea….. .20190614_0736306037526881733892812.jpg

Here’s My Expectation

You know my daughters going to college, right?

Ok Ok- this is not about my daughter and her journey. But it does talk about the path we had to take.

In Manhattan, we don’t have zoned schools- Kids apply to High School. As there are different types of students, there are different types of high schools. My daughters is selective, meaning middle school grades and tests count, and is also considered college prep- the entire curriculum is based upon getting into a four year college. So basically, it’s a school of smart driven kids, backed by smart driven parents.

Oh the parents.

The parents enter this school with delusions of grandeur. Every parent assumes that there kid is going to a “sweatshirt” school- a school so recognizable that pretty much everyone has heard of it, and is sure to remark ‘Oh- that’s a good school” (whether or not they actually know anything about it)

You’ve heard me talk about how hard these sweatshirt schools are to get into, the majority being an acceptance rate of 30% or below. And you heard me talk about how many colleges my daughter and her classmates got rejected from. (FYI- the salutatorian from my daughters school is going to her “likely” school because she was rejected from everything else- so what does a 99GPA and a 35 on the ACT get you anyway?)

I know a Mom who has a son at my daughters school. The son is smart with decent grades and decent ACT score. He does his homework and he goes to class, but he puts in less than medium effort into anything. He did the minimum hours of community service required, and has no extras. None. So when his Mother went to the meeting with the college counselor, the counselor told him he should really consider early decision, and really be careful of what schools he chose, because you know, you need to be realistic. This scared the Mother so her son did indeed apply to a school ED, and was accepted. Done deal.

Now let me say that he got into a really good school- top hundred no matter what survey you look at. Kids get jobs and into graduate school after finishing there. Solid school.

The Mother is not happy. I mean she is really pissy about the school he is going to. Her EXPECTATION is that her son is way better than this school. The reality is that this school is exactly where he belongs- and honestly- he’s lucky he got into it.

Here’s the thing about expectations: they need to have some logical basis. Yes- her son is smart. He had a nice average. But in the world of competitive academics, that’s not enough. You need to stand out.

Everyone thinks their child is the best thing in the world. That’s the way it’s supposed to be: in your heart you are supposed to think that there is no one better than your kid. But in your head….well..in your head you have to know exactly how your kids compares to everyone else so that you can help them achieve their best life. You need to figure out what you can do to help your child succeed at whatever is important to them. This is not the time for blinders and excuses.

This Mom does tend to make excuses for why her son doesn’t do things. It’s so hard to find a volunteer job, how can the teacher expect that of someone, etc. In your head you can’t keep making excuses for your kid. You have to accept the personality that they have and work with it to bring out their high points. You can’t expect them to be something they’re not.

Parental attitude also matters. Now that all the kids have accepted spots in colleges, the paperwork begins. First up: orientation. Many colleges are now adopting pre-orientation programs. They have different areas of interest: some are leadership based, or do community service or just do some sort of survival thing in the woods. They’re done to give kids the opportunity to meet some of their classmates before official orientation. Some of these programs cost money. My Daughter is going to try to do one (her college makes you apply to them) This particular Mom doesn’t want her son to do it because it’s a “scam” to get money. Now, I have a different version of “scam”. I think a “scam” is where you pay for something but get nothing in return. I think of the pre-orientation as an opportunity. And we don’t turn down opportunities in this house. These programs are a chance to learn about something you might not know about. She has told her son that these things are a waste. How does she expect her son to be a doer when she has blocked that path for him?

You can’t make excuses and complain about things that others are doing and still expect your kid to compete with the others. If you’re in a tower building contest and one person has fifty bricks and good quality cement, and you have five bricks and spit, how can you expect to compete?

When you have expectations of your child with regards to schooling, you have to make sure your expectations are reasonable. The main goal is helping your child reach their best life, no matter what path that is. Don’t expect your kid to be something they’re not. That’s only going to breed unhappiness.