It seems to me that ever since my eldest child stepped foot into school, I have been waging a small war against the American public school system. The day the last kid graduated from that institution, I breathed a sigh of relief. The war was over for me.
The American Dream hinges a lot on education, and while I agree that education is important, I disagree with the adage that you can’t be successful without it. In the end, success is in eye of the beholder. Read here to get an idea of how successful, or unsuccessful, this family is.
All three of my kids are extremely intelligent, but when it came to standardized testing, Rebekkah just shined. As is the habit of public schools, she was given a PACT test as a sophomore in high school, which is a pre-test that gives the school some idea of where she is in her education, and what areas she would need to work on. The results excited her teachers. She scored so high, that had it been the real ACT test, she would qualify for a full scholarship at one of the excellent colleges in Oklahoma. Her father and I almost swooned with pride.
Yeah, buddy. I made that! Scheduled around those tests, was Career Day, where the parents and students come to the school and discuss how a child should map out the remaining years of their education to best set themselves up to achieve their career goals. I have been called to the school so many times for the crappiest reasons, that for once, I was kind of psyched about going. I mean, I obviously had given birth to the smartest kid in the entire Sophomore class, and I wanted to be admired…That’s the long and short of it.
So, looking fresh and cocky, I headed to the school, Rebekkah in tow, and meet with her counselor. The counselor was a mousey woman who obviously had no sense of humor. And when you are dealing with Rebekkah, a sense of humor is a must. When I sat down in front of her, she began to launch into a lecture about how children that don’t take their education seriously in high school end up failing in life. I listened for about 5 minutes, before interrupting her and making her get to the point. I hate lectures.
Counselor: Ms. Martin, it is obvious Rebekkah isn’t taking her education seriously.
Me: What makes you say this? She has excellent grades. She scored high on her PACT test..
Counselor: Well, let me show you. See here..Rebekkah states that she wants a career in bartending. What kind of career would that be? Anyone can do this…
Me: I’m sure she was just kidding…
Bekkie: No, I wasn’t.
Me: Oh, Rebekkah…
Counselor: As you can see from her test results, she can do anything in the world that she wants to do…It would be such a waste of an excellent mind for her to not set higher goals for herself. And as her mother, that is what you should be encouraging her to do…
Me: I know…Bekkie! Seriously, this is what you want to do for the rest of your life? Bar-tending? ‘Cause I’ve done this bar-tending thing before, and it blows…
Bekkie: I’m 16. This is what I think I want to do right now, but I don’t know yet. I haven’t had a chance to see what is out there, so I don’t know what I will end up really liking. Why do I have to choose now?
Me: I guess just because you can do anything in the world doesn’t mean you have to..
Counselor: Well, I guess that you’re right, but still…What a waste of her talents!
Me: We’re finished here. She’s got a point. I didn’t know jack when I was 16, and neither does she. She’s obviously smart…she’ll figure it out. Maybe she just wants to be a bartender..It’s her life. Let’s go, Bek.
I really dislike pigeon-holing children to follow the status quo. I’ve learned with my own children that there are way more important things than achieving the “success” that the world tends to admire. I didn’t have any luck trying to force them into my religion, so it was doubtful I was going to force them into a career as well. Bek is an adult now, and she’s worked a couple of jobs, testing the waters of each to see what she would like to have a career in. And that’s okay..What is life if not practicing living?
Set your own priorities and definitions of success, and let your children set theirs…It makes for an exciting, fun life!