Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's summer time!

School's out. Let the games begin.

Earbaby has officially survived her sophomore year of high school. After her final exams were done (with excuses and blaming after the grades come out to follow later this summer) she proclaimed herself to be a junior. This is the year she is supposed to seriously consider where she wants to spend her parents' hard-earned dollars for four years after she graduates. And no, saying you want to go to LSU because you heard it was a great party school is not, in my opinion, serious consideration.

But this has been an interesting school year as I look back, sometimes in horror, other times just in disbelief. I don't remember as many transitions during my high school years, but it may be those rose-colored hindsight glasses, or it could be that I graduated around the time the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth.

I can still look back in way too recent pictures and see, first day of sophomore year! EB and a couple of friends with their Dunkin Donuts drinks setting forth seems like it was just a couple of days ago, and a few hundred years ago. Time is so fluid and fickle that way.

So, allow me to reminisce on the lessons I've learned during EB's sophomore year. Columnists usually write these non sequiturs as clearing out the mind, or picked up pieces, so with a nod to a couple of my favorite local sports columnists, here goes my lessons learned as a high school sophomore:

When you're a cheerleader for a school that hasn't had cheerleaders for five years, your friends will treat you as if they expect you to have morphed into a mean girl from Glee overnight. Suddenly they think you think you're too cool for them. This treatment goes from curious, to kind of funny, to downright annoying in a matter of minutes. You think you're the same person you were the day before when you weren't wearing a uniform. They see Cinderella has suddenly glammed up after she put on her second glass slipper. It takes a couple of weeks of rolling your eyes before things get back to normal. Some people enjoy the coronation. You don't. Keep cool, this too shall pass.

Advanced placement (college level) classes are not for the faint of heart. It will haunt you, hurt you, send you into tears and plenty of sleepless nights while you struggle mightily under reams of reading. Your first term grades will be disappointing. You will stress and worry because, as you say, even the smart kids are struggling. But hang tough kid, you've got what it takes and you belong there. Your final term grade will bear this out. And you got so much out of that class, the grades are secondary. This is really what education is all about.

Not all teachers know what they're doing. You've known this for awhile, but sometimes you get a teacher who is so bad, even your tutors can't get you on track. Mostly because there is no track. This teacher is all over the place, inconsistent and only worried about getting his students through the standardized test. This may bring your grade average down. Sigh, and then move on.

Some of your best teachers get tired of fighting the bureaucratic battles and find they have to leave to save their sanity (this never happens with the bad teachers though). Count your blessings that you had enough time with these teachers that you learned how to look at your life and other people's lives in a different way. Say a prayer that the good teachers find peace and know how much they have to contribute and will teach other grateful students in a less hostile environment.

Snow days are no fun. Oh sure, if you're 9 or 10 years old, they're a blast. No school, not a whole lot of shoveling is expected from you and your unexpected vacation is all snow angels and video games. But if you're a teenager (even a princess) you at some point will be expected to help stem the tide of the avalanche that was Boston's winter of 2015. When we drive down the street and remember just a few short months ago the apocalyptic nightmare that surrounded us, be grateful that the teachers' union was probably the only thing that kept you from going to school right up until the Fourth of July. As it was, we came pretty darn close.

No matter how sick you are during the week, your body will magically heal itself in time for a party. In fact, if you're too sick to go to a party (any party), one must consider that a hospital stay may be on the docket. You can miss dance class (several times) or tutoring sessions (more than once), but if there is a party within the 24-48 hours of any life-threatening illness, your body will respond like the miracle of Lazarus. You will also become hypersensitive and mightily offended to accusations of "faking it."

Sometimes your parents make mistakes. When your grandfather died, we shouldn't have sent you to school the next day. But we were thinking of the next week, when you would have to miss several days for the wake and funeral. You were sent home by a sensitive teacher who saw you were too distraught. We apologize. As it turns out, Grandpa, who it is rumored told people he wanted a blizzard when he died, sent a doozy. It started the night of the wake, forced a postponement of his funeral, and as it turned out, made it so you didn't miss any days of school at all. By weekend three of the blizzards, we were all saying "OK Dad, we get it. Now that's enough!" He always was a merry jokester.

Your social life is rich, full, and making your dad and I broke. Luckily we have no lives of our own. Every party (especially birthday parties with gifts required) makes our wallets a little lighter. When you say you're going out to dinner, or a movie, or a party, or just hanging out with your friends, we sigh sadly, because nothing is ever free. You're generous to your friends on their special days. Or maybe we should say we're generous to your friends on their special days. Your dad and I are constantly asking each other, "how come when she goes to a party, we have to pay?" Oh well, we sigh, and then move on.

You have the nicest people in the world as your friends. They came out to support you when you were cheerleading (even the kids who had no idea of what was going on during the football games), they comforted you when your grandfather died, they celebrated your Sweet 16, they like hanging out at your house, they are respectful to your parents and they love you. You love them too, even as you talk about how foolish they are. You have a ton of friends who will get you through the next two years of high school. Cherish them. When you all graduate and are scattered to the four corners of the earth, these memories will make you smile.

This may be the last summer you don't work. We want you to enjoy this next month of a really tiring dance workshop that will try your mind, body and soul. You may love it, you may hate it, but you will learn from it. When it's over you'll be a stronger dancer and a stronger person. You'll know how to persevere, work through problems, and work within a group. And in only a couple of months (!) it will be time to get back to school. Enjoy your summer, sigh, and then move on.

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