I know I am not alone when I say that 90% of what I say to my teenage daughter goes in one ear and out the other. I would even go as far as saying that most of it actually doesn’t even enter her ears at all and just flies over her head in space somewhere. I’m not kidding. It is so frustrating. The look above is the one that I get a lot. It’s the “Ok, whatever mom” look. I honestly don’t know how to get through to her sometimes. I really wish that I had a magic wand I could wave to get her to care. This is especially true when it comes to school and academics. I cannot get her to care about school at all. This has been her whole life, though, not just as a teen. Don’t get me wrong, she makes good grades for the most part, but she really has no care in the world when it comes to school. I keep thinking that one day she’s going to grow up and mature enough to start caring, but I am starting to loose hope.
Her attitude towards school is the total opposite of how I was growing up. I was the kid that would get upset when I got a grade that was low (and my standard of low for myself was much higher than most people would think was low). I studied a lot. I cared about what classes I was taking. I cared about making grades that would get me into a good college. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents by not being near the top of the class. My parents never put that pressure on me, though. They didn’t have to. I put the pressure on myself to always be perfect. It was just my nature to strive to be the perfect kid. I know that is one of my flaws. I have always had this idea of what perfect looks like and that I had to be just that. My child, on the other hand, could care less about college and getting into a good school. All she cares about is trying to do gymnastics in college, which is a highly unlikely scenario. I think it frustrates me so much because I just don’t understand how she could not care about these things. She gets a bad grade and it doesn’t faze her at all, even when she knows that she will be in trouble when we see the grade. It honestly makes me want to pull my hair out on a regular basis.
I will go on record to say that I think part of her feelings towards school is a result of how hard school is for her. She has a mild learning disability in reading and writing which makes those things harder for her. She takes regular classes and doesn’t get any extra support in school anymore because she doesn’t need it. I just think her struggles in her early years with reading turned her off from school and learning. Another part of it is that school just isn’t a priority for her. Gymnastics has been her life since she was one year old. That’s her priority. That’s what she cares about. That is her sole focus in life. Maybe we messed up when we pulled her out of regular school to do virtual school those two years of middle school. We did that mainly because the schools where we lived at the time were horrible. She certainly wasn’t getting the best education there where she had to evacuate the school for 2-3 bomb threats a month. In her mind, though, we did it so that she could train more in gymnastics. While that was a part of the decision, it certainly was not the main reason. Maybe that sent her the wrong message that school was less important than gymnastics. I don’t know. As a parent you are always second-guessing your decisions. I still believe it was the right decision for her education, but maybe it wasn’t the right decision for her mindset.
All of this has been on my mind this week because we had to put in her request for classes for next year. I was really trying to encourage her to take more honors and AP classes, and she was fighting me on it every step of the way. She doesn’t take it seriously at all, which drives me nuts. I know that those harder classes will be difficult for her and that she will struggle, and I know that she doesn’t want to put in the effort it takes in those classes. BUT…I also know that it looks better on her transcript for college if she takes those classes and does well in them. She doesn’t care, though. She doesn’t think ahead to the future. She only cares about the here and now. My struggle comes with how much to push her. How much pressure do I put on her? Is it worth it? Do I just accept the fact that this is who she is and let it go? Being a parent is so hard. I honestly sit in my car driving the carpool to practice in the afternoons and listen to my daughter’s teammate talk about all of her homework and how she stays up to 2:00 AM doing schoolwork after practice. I see how stressed and overwhelmed she is about school because she is in all honors and AP classes. Do I really want that for my child? I don’t want her stressed out and up all hours doing work. There has to be some kind of balance for these kids. Ugh! Why is it so hard?
I guess the only thing I can do is to continue to pray about her and what the future holds for her, and then just try to make the best decisions I can for her. I am coming to realize that I have to let go of my idea of who I think she is supposed to be and accept who she really is. It is clear that I can’t change her, and as I think about it, I am not sure I want to anymore. She is who she is and she will become who she is meant to be. Maybe my previous expectations for her were never realistic. Maybe I was projecting my idea of perfect on her just like I have always done to myself. I have talked about learning to accept myself for who I am, imperfections and all, but I have never considered until now that I was projecting that same idea of “perfect” onto her. I think it is time to let that go. My thinking is flawed. I have to change my mindset. I have to let her be who she is meant to be. My idea of perfect is wrong. She is perfect just the way she is. Yes, I still need to guide her, but I don’t have to force her to be like me. I have to let go. I have to let her choose her path and make her own mistakes. I have to let her be. It’s hard, but it is how I have to go forward. I have learned that when you finally let go and let God take control, great things/magical things will happen. That is what I have to do. I’m letting go and letting God.
Anchored and Letting Go,