There are many ways I express my creativity even though I am the worst “arts and crafts” person around. When my daughter was little and in the girl scouts I would ruminate for hours on what craft I could and would do to entertain the girls. I write (as you would expect!) and I also take photographs. There have been many times I have made collages out of some of the photographs I have taken and pictures ripped from magazines. I use quotes, poetry, even things that have broken, cemented on to the poster board of the day. I find that it really showcases how I am feeling at that particular time. I never plan it out, I just collect a lot of things and put it together the way I want. There is no wrong or right way. I have missed making a collage, thanks for the impetus; I’ll start a new one very soon.
The year of tension and excitement and dread is upon us. We have a Junior in High School and Senior in High School at the same time. I get mixed up when I write a check, is it for the PSAT? Senior dues? Homecoming? Does my daughter have driver’s ed the same time she is babysitting twice a week or will that work out? Will my son and husband’s EMT class conflict with my son’s attention to applying for college? How will he get all his homework done? How will my daughter do all these things at the same time?
Our guidance counselor is on medical leave and I do feel bad for anyone who is sick. But, to my own chagrin when we heard the announcement my husband and I both thought: “What about our kids?” They are in their Junior and Senior year and they have no guidance counselor. It was totally selfish and somewhat unkind but it is reality. I’m sure they will figure out things at the High School but becoming one of “those parents” was totally disheartening and disturbing. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t nice but it I admit it, it crossed our minds.
Tonight, we thought we had our son’s Senior essay all set (and since when do the parents have to do the work and write an essay?). We wrote a beautiful, succinct paragraph that truly summed up his character and learning style. All was fine until I heard people wrote pages. Not one page but two or three, one parent wrote five. Granted, this is a bit much but I had the horrible feeling that we had done too little. So, after calling friends, taking polls and freaking out, I tried to expand his essay and elaborate so we will have at least another paragraph, two if they are small.
This added news sent me into a frenzy. I panicked, I stressed out and of course, I ate. I went straight to the kitchen where a lone pack of Yodels sat in their pretty white box with blue and orange trim. They were basically begging for me to eat them. What could I do? I ripped that cellophane pack into shreds within two seconds, and ate them as I was climbing, with pain and soreness, upstairs to the bedroom. I literally stuffed them into my mouth. Sure, I ate them one at a time but I did not linger, I did not sit down leisurely and peel the chocolate, I just ate them. I didn’t even ENJOY them. That, my friends is stressful eating. Next time I go grocery shopping, I cannot kid myself that buying the Yodels was an altruistic act for my children.
I can tell I am overwhelmed because my jaw has stiffened and my TMJ hurts. I am trying to relax but I can’t. There is so much going on now that I can’t even “breathe” myself down. If Yodels didn’t help, nothing will. This is not good for my auto-immune disease or my fibromyalgia because I think the stress makes the symptoms worse. I am in pain and I am very tense and my body hurts in places it shouldn’t hurt. Even if I slow my body down, my mind (probably still from the aforementioned Prednisone) will not. I just can’t stay up much longer, I’m tired and need to sleep. For a person who never procrastinates I am thankful for one extra day. One last day to finish all the things left to do, retype the essay, clean the house, do laundry, go to pick up a prescription and most importantly, not eat Yodels.
Lugubrious, Nefarious, Eviscerate. What do these words have in common? You say nothing? Wrong. They are all words to be studied for the infamous SAT’s my son will take in March. The dreaded PSAT’s, for anyone who doesn’t have a Middle School or High School student, are over. There is “before” in the college process and then, there is” after”. This goes on for a very, very long time.
At the moment, my son completed his PSAT’s taken with more than a little arrogance and plenty of time. “It was way easy” he proclaimed. Not so much when he got back his test scores (which I thought were pretty good). My approved quote to any mother that might ask how he did was “he was disappointed he didn’t do better.” We now talk in code.
The kids can or cannot talk about their scores, this is individual. It may be alright with SOME friends but definitely not with others. Why, who or when is completely unknown. This is for KIDS ONLY. If I casually ask how a particular friend had done, I am met with an annoying glare, translated to “why on earth do you want to know and no way am I telling you.”
I’m not sure if it’s the age (okay, it is DEFINITELY the age) but communication, affection, closeness and manners all decline; this is from my own experience and those of my mom friends too. We KNOW you have to separate, we KNOW you are going to college in a little under 2 years but really, there is nothing to prove to us. Ah, I see, kids are really doing it for themselves. We know it’s a process called individuation, but they don’t and that’s why they act up, guard their territory, communicate less, condescend more and basically act as if they have already packed up and left home. The only unknown is where their dorm room is, does it have a stereo system and which college they will be attending. Other than that, they are pretty much done.
Except for the fact that the process is just beginning. After the PSAT you need to study for the SAT; many children (children?) go to tutoring. It’s just not that simple as that. There is SAT tutoring in large groups, SAT tutoring in small groups, and SAT private tutoring. For those who knew nothing about it and waited too long with their oldest child, (like us) there is also SAT tutoring on-line and no, silly, it is NOT free. Nothing is. You even have to pay for the test….every single time you take it!!! And, truth be known, students take it several times to see if they can better their score. At some point, the parent or the child will just have to stop.
The next paragraph is pure conjecture on my part and in no particular order but from what I have been told, the tests just multiply after this. There’s the ACT (instead of or with the SAT) there a re subject tests (no clue how many) then there is the “Common Essay” that you use as your general essay submitted to a multitude of colleges. In addition, there’s the separate college essay that’s geared to a particular school, and they all want them. There’s the interview, the alumni interview, the visit- the- college- and- show- them -how- interested- you- are -interview and several others. It’s not easy for the kids and it’s definitely not easy for the parents or for that matter, the younger siblings.
You CANNOT book a vacation or make any plans from halfway through Junior year to halfway (minimum) through your Senior year. You will be visiting schools with your parents, visiting schools with your friends, wanting to go to visit schools and of course not wanting to go at all and wish the decision could be made without you.
So far, we are at the very beginning of the process. My son puts his hands over his ears and screams Nah Nah Nah at the very thought of going on a college tour. Some of his friends have been on tours already, some already know which college they want to go to, if they get in. Then, of course, there’s early admission where you sign your life away and many other admissions after that, delayed, delighted and dismayed.
Hang in there with us. We’ll take you with us on every step of the prep. Enjoy your early High School years, they really are a lot of fun. But, think to yourself, as soon as second semester sophomore year approaches, it only goes downhill from there. They up the work load, pile on the homework, test your skills, dedication and ethics just to get ready to start the process from the very beginning, the PSAT.