I am well aware that the path of life that we travel down is full of twists and turns, and forks in the road. But I have never been so aware of the great importance that our fork in the road decisions hold, until the past few weeks.
I love being a Mother. I can’t imagine for one second not being a Mother. It is something I have always wanted to do. It was never a question of “if” I have kids … it was always a “when” I have kids. They are my pride and joy. My everything. And although every decision, when it comes to your child, is an important one … they seem to be getting more and more important as time goes by.
My two children are both approaching milestones this year. My son will move from Middle School to High School, and my daughter will move from Elementary School to Middle School … and as a parent, I could not be prouder of them. They both do exceptionally well in school. They are both very active in extracurricular activities … sports, scouts, church, community service. I think we have done a pretty good job of raising very well rounded children. And I always thought that we were pretty active and involved in our children’s educational paths, until the past few weeks.
My son did not always have an easy time in school. He was diagnosed with ADHD early on in his educational career, and we ended up deciding to hold him back and have him repeat a grade. Talk about important decisions. We wrestled with this decision for an entire year before we made the decision to hold him back. And in hindsight, it is pretty funny, because I think my husband and I had a harder time with this decision than my son ever did or ever will. I also feel that the decision to hold him back was the best one that we ever made. We worked very hard with him as a young child, and it has returned to him tenfold. He excels in school, and is a top scorer amongst his peers on state aptitude tests.
With his history of being in the top percentile of the state aptitude tests, I was quite surprised when I got his class placements for High School. Here I thought he was on the upper scholastic track at school, and when I get his placements for High School I find out that he is on a pretty average track. How can that be?? This is the kids who scores in the top 2% or better amongst his peers statewide. He was chosen by Duke University to take the SAT/ACT as a 7th grader. And he is not on the top track headed into High School?
As a result of these recent findings, I have spend the last two weeks being a complete tornado … going from teachers, to counselors, to my peers, trying to find answers to my questions. How did this happen? How can this kid be at the top of the testing heap, and not be at the top of the scholastic heap at school. This is the kid who wants to eventually study engineering at a top University … is he still on the right track? Have I, as a parent, done everything I could have to make sure that he can get to that end goal? Did I miss something along the line?
This has been tornado alley for sure!
After two weeks of me asking hundreds of questions, consulting school faculty, counselors, my peers, those employed in higher education, I have come to these realizations.
- Sometimes it’s not always good to be on the fast track. After challenging the educators at my son’s school, and consulting with my peers and those employed in institutions of high learning, I have learned that it’s not always good to be on the fast track. Apparently the “Honors” Math class that I thought my son was in, amounted to them skipping an entire book, to get those kids on an upper academic track, and personally I think that skipping a book is not good in the long run for one’s educational path. Especially when you are talking about Math! Really? Can you imagine skipping Algebra 1, to be able to move into Algebra 2, just so that you can get to Calculus before you graduate from High School? Somehow, I think the building blocks are more important in the long run … than rushing through just to say that you accomplished it all!
- There is more than one way of accomplishing your goal. Okay, so he’s not on the fast track. That does not mean that I’ve ruined this kid’s chances of getting into a top engineering program at the University level. And actually me panicking over him not reaching Calculus in High School was a complete overreaction on my part, because as I’ve learned, most Universities would rather you NOT take Calculus in High School, so that they can teach it to you THEIR way. Huh. Who knew!?
- Every person’s path is different … and dynamic! Every person’s, or in this case, every child’s path is different. And what worked for you, or your best friend, or your co-worker, or our parent many not work for your child. And even when you have a pretty idea of what path you want to be on, or should be on, that path is ever changing and always dynamic.
This has been a pretty dynamic couple of weeks. And the path that I thought that I was on as a Mother, and the path that I thought my son was on, have all changed ever so slightly. The end goal is still very attainable … but who knows … that may change too! I need to do a better job of not worrying about the things that I cannot change, giving life my all on a daily basis, and letting the chips fall where they may. But as a Mother, that is a very difficult thing to do, as I only want the best for my child. But sometimes the path to the “best” is not what we think.
I think I have come full circle this week, from completely doubting my parenting abilities, to coming back to the feeling that I am doing a pretty good job. It’s too bad there isn’t a user’s manual for this child, because some days it really would help!
What path are you on?