Mary Dell writes: As the mom of a teenage daughter, I occasionally feel like I am parenting on a separate planet from my friends who have teenage sons. At Lisa’s house, sports are in full swing, and the mountains of standardized tests and specter of finals loom ahead. At my house, we have all of that plus what can only be referred to as high season for the high school prom.
For Lisa, it has been three sons, three trips through 11th grade and barely a word about the prom. Fifteen minutes to rent a tux, a five-minute phone call to order a corsage and yes, the sum total of time boys spent on the prom…twenty minutes.
With the biggest attire decision a boy has to make is peaked lapel or shawl, there is little to talk about except for the invitation. The onus of asking, despite so much about our gender roles changing, still lies with boys so whom to ask and how, are the important questions concerning young men.
But at our house, talk of the high school prom pops up with my daughter’s group of friends with the regularity of a favorite TV show which, at times, the conversation resembles.
Lisa writes: Over on the Motherlode blog at The New York Times, writers KJ Dell’Antonia and Hope Perlman discussed the importance, or lack of importance, in attending a prestigious college. The two thoughtful back-to-back pieces laid out the opposing viewpoints on chasing admission to an excellent college, a process that begins early in high school, versus chasing one’s passions and seeing where that might lead. Perlman’s piece focused on the benefits that can accrue from attending a well-known college in terms of contacts, and later jobs, and despite hoping her daughter becomes a happy well-rounded adult, she would like her to have this opportunity.
Dell’Antonia’s rebuttal stated that ambition would lead to success and that it ultimately matters what you do with your education, not where you obtained it. She theorizes that she will not care where her kids attend college when the time comes.
Mary Dell writes: Once our children become teenagers, there is one big question that looms large over their four years of high school – where will they gain college admission. Lisa and I both have 11th graders who are taking the SAT, visiting schools and, along with three million other kids, seeking the answer.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnQKxns6krA Continue reading →
I am going through junior year in high school, for the fourth time.
First, in the late 1970s, I endured it myself. Then as the mother of three I watched my boys battle through this long tough year, struggling with their academic and athletic schedules while trying to visit colleges, navigate a minefield of standardized tests, have a social life and learn to drive.
It is an exhausting process for both parent and teen, fraught with emotion as our kids prepare for the next stage in their lives. At Grown and Flown, I have explored my journey towards the empty nest and there is no question that 11th grade is the first step on that journey. Here are some suggestions to help them on their way: Continue reading →
Mary Dell writes: For our two families, Thanksgiving weekend offered a chance to Lisa and me to say helloandgoodbye to our older sons who swooped in for home cooked meals and nights out with friends before heading back to college. Though our youngest, both 11th graders, also resumed classes, they returned to a new phase in their lives, thanks to the College Board.
Like a Daytona 500 starter dropping the green flag, the College Board will soon mail PSAT scores to high schools, signalling the beginning of the race known as college application season.
The PSAT is big – 3.5 million kids big – and it is the one pre-college test that all juniors take with all of their classmates on a single day in October. It is a rite of passage going back to 1971 (hey, we took it too!) and, for generations of kids, the PSAT has started the ball rolling. Continue reading →
As we write this we are teaching our youngest children to drive. This is a path we have been down before, but as our impulse for self-preservation is undiminished, we still find it a bit frightening this last time. Learning to drive may be one of the great adolescent milestones but, for parents, it represents a major push back from our kids as they claim their independence from us. Truthfully, the whole process is driving us crazy.
Mary Dell is teaching a daughter and Lisa is teaching a son, so in effect we are living on different planets. The one thing we share is the deep scary realization that we are placing a lethal weapon in the hands of children we love, but who we know to be only part way on their journey to maturity.
Mary Dell writes: Fall is my favorite season. Along with the just-turning foliage, comes the return of my preferred spectator sport – college football. My passion stems from the Friday Night Lights elements of my upbringing and the four years I spent in Austin at the University of Texas. I am a genuine Longhorn fan and spent many happy game days at the UT Stadium. But the real reason I love college football is that our son, a college senior, is a big fan, too. Now a fun and shared pastime, following the sport during his teenage years was more like a lifeline that kept our relationship afloat.
While he was in high school, our son developed the evasive skills that all teenagers acquire fielding questions from well-meaning neighbors, family members, and perfect strangers. Where do you want to go to college/ have you taken your SATs/ what do you want to major in? Against that backdrop of inquisition, we had moments when our disagreements over studying, tests, and college applications would have made for excellent reality television. More recently, we have had a few “animated discussions” as we both adjust to his young adulthood status. Continue reading →