In August of this year, I will officially have a high schooler. I find this fact very hard to wrap my head around. Just yesterday I was worried this child would never potty train and would go off to college with a case of diapers under one arm and a case of cheap beer under the other. Yet, here we are. He is completely housebroken and in the final months of 8th grade.
As of a couple of weeks ago, I started getting emails about random parent meetings from our school district. Meetings if you wanted your child to do dual credit college courses. Meetings if you wanted your child to go to the career center. Tonight it’s a meeting to learn about the registration process, requirements to graduate in our state and district, and information on the various electives, sports, and AP classes. To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. When I say this to some friends they look at me like I am crazy. Apparently, they have either done this before or this was how their high school experience looked. I do not share their experience. My grandmother dropped out of school after the 5th grade to help her dirt poor, sharecropping family. My mother was the first in her family to graduate from high school; not of all of her brothers and sisters did so. I was the first person in my family to go to college. Additionally, I went to a very small high school. Our electives were classes like typing, home ec, and Spanish. I had so little choice I wasn’t worried. I just picked whatever fit my schedule and I thought I could pull off a decent grade. Our State’s requirements to graduate were not that strict. I don’t recall having to have a minimum of two years of foreign language and one year of fine art. Yet now I look at this form my child’s school wants back in a few days and I’m completely baffled. Electives like Teen Leadership and Intro to Architectural Design sound like college classes, not high school. The school wants to know what path my kid will be on arts, business, STEM, public service or multidisciplinary. This kid’s greatest ambition is to beat his current video game. He doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. I’m in a downright breathe into a paper bag panic and this kid doesn’t have two fucks to give.
The questions that keep running through my mind is how did this process get so complicated? Is there such a thing as too many choices? Is it because my kid goes to a school of thousands of kids and I went to one with just a few hundred? Is it because it really was 25 years ago and that’s just how things have progressed? Is it because of our district? I don’t have any answers because I have no frame of reference for other districts. As my oldest child, he is my test dummy and this really is our first rodeo. Then I start to worry about the classes my kid picks. What if my kid picks the wrong classes could that delay graduation or hurt his chances of getting into a good post-secondary education opportunity? What are the consequences? This is definitely one of those parenting situations where the drama doesn’t go away it just becomes different. Even though potty training was a nightmare, I think I would gladly take a week of nightly pee the bed sheets over trying to make heads or tails of high school registration.
P.S. – At the end of the day I know I’m probably overreacting. Like all parents, I just want to do the very best I can for my kid. I don’t want to let him down or know I didn’t help put him on the path for success. And, I don’t want him living in our spare room until he’s 30.
P.P.S – Yes, that really is a picture of the actual form for my kid’s high school. Those are just some of the electives offered at his school.