I spent the morning and early afternoon organizing and prepping documents for my youngest son. He is a junior in high school and college is looming ahead. The time went by fast.
I bought the color-coded Trapper Keeper folders to keep in the binder, trying to keep his choices down to five. It costs $30-40 to apply to just one college. I went through his transcripts and all the classes he has taken up to now. We had him on the "highly selective college track" which meant four years each of English, Science, Social Studies, Math, and Foreign Language. Then since he wants to be a musical theatre/dramatic arts major, we had to block out another four years for Drama and Vocal Music Classes. That left very little for P.E.,Health, and those other pesky requirements that we are trying to squeeze into a seven hour day. We did not let him waste an hour with study hall and monitor his studies from home. It is all working out.
We met with his college counselor, despite him having two parents with five degrees and both with careers in higher education, so she could explain to him the importance of junior year. My husband and I talked to our son for the past two years about how important all his classes were but about how critical his junior year would be to his future success. Thankfully, he is taking it all to heart.
There are those classes he didn't like or didn't do well because he and the teacher clashed, I reminded him that we have all had that one instructor or professor who rubbed us the wrong way, to not let that deter him from doing his best. This year, I am loving him and enjoying watching this transformation in him as something snapped for him mentally and emotionally. He gets it.
It all brought me to the point of knowing the seven years I spent at home were not in vain. Even with the side teaching and working in the summer, my primary profession has been mom. It has gone by fast.
I would not call myself a helicopter mom, I do not sit in on his classes or try to act like his friends to seem "cool" even though I am pretty young-spirited. I have tried to guide him through and navigate the waters called high school so he could then chart his own course once he hit college.
We also realized early on that this kid is pretty smart as well as talented. He has performed in musicals, plays, and had keyboard recitals. At the same time, he is exceptionally good in math and almost just as good in science, even if he doesn't like science as much as he likes math. He is just a good mix.
I thought about it all and how much teenagers really need their parents to be there, to show up, and to listen. My husband and/or I have not missed a parent/teacher conference for any of our children. We always check grades online and communicate with the teachers. For the high schooler, we made sure the high school knew that we were outlining his course selection and would have him sign up for those challenging classes.
Yesterday as his first conference of junior year. He is making excellent grades. It was refreshing to talk to teachers who had him as a freshman and were watching him as a scholar, gentleman, and actor as a junior. He is impressive. He had to grow up and while he is nine months younger than his school mates, just needed us to be a little patient while he finished catching up. Now, at sixteen, he is on the pace I always knew was part of his DNA.
My son is also in an upcoming musical and just auditioned for a play in early 2011. He has made some key decisions in terms of his time and what will guide him to the future he wants - on stage.
Someone asked me why we were so involved with him since he is a junior. I said because he still needs us. We can not give up and just be exhausted. Too many talented kids have been lost because their parents thought they didn't have to do anything once they made it to high school. I certainly see that with some of the kids at my son's school. Now, I show up, my husband shows up because we know what is at stake.
It took a long time to cross reference the different schools and write out three scenarios for senior year classes. It too, just like junior year, will be here before we know it.
I am going to blink and we will be loading up the van, pointing it in a direction, and drive him off to his future. It is with that in mind that I try to be available and accessible to him, to his sisters, why the last seven years have been worth all the sacrifice.
My son never got into any trouble, beyond just missing homework or being disorganized at home. He has always been polite and respectful. He didn't get involved in disruptive behavior and has surrounded himself with a good group of friends. His girlfriend passed the "sister test" and seems to share the same ambitions. Neither of them have distractions like sex or kids on their minds, they seem to understand the importance of these years and that high school is just a blip on their life radar. They know they have time.