I wasn’t sure what else to title this, except I might have added a *sigh* after it. Geeky Boy, now well into his teen years and frankly, nearing independence is both a typical and atypical teen. On the typical side, he sleeps late, plays way too many video games, and doesn’t pay too much attention to stuff. On the atypical side, he enjoys being around adults, pays attention to and cares about politics, and is a vegetarian (for both health and political reasons). He struggles in school, which drives me nuts, but which I also understand. There’s a lot more pressure on kids these days, as least as far as I can tell. I could pretty much coast through high school without much of a plan, and just wait to see what happened. Now, kids who are smart, but without a plan–a 5 year plan at that–are an anomaly. Geeky Boy and I just sat through a scheduling session with his high school principal. He’s in all honors classes, though he did not do well last year. So, the principal asked what he planned to do in two years when he graduated. His response was a shrug. So the next question was why honors classes? Geeky Boy had a good response for that, saying that he enjoyed learning and being around others who also enjoyed learning. He explained that he had taken a non-honors course in 8th grade and felt really out of place. So the principal then asked what happened last year–why didn’t he do well. Geeky Boy then admitted that he didn’t always do or turn in his homework.
The principal then talked to him about work ethic and about how many students in honors courses have a Plan and know where they’re going to college and what they’re interested in studying. And while I get that, I also feel like it’s unfair to some extent. Not every smart kid has a Plan, but they certainly don’t want to be shunted into lower-level classes just because they don’t have their life figured out yet. I didn’t have my life figured out yet, and quite frankly, I’m often skeptical of kids who, at 16, know they’re going to be X when they grow up. Life can throw you some curve balls. Geeky Boy has had some mental health issues that have hindered his ability to be motivated. And, I think his time on the computer also hinders him, and we will be restricting that further. Still, I do think junior year is a good time to really start focusing, and at least start to think about colleges and fields of study and career possibilities. Geeky Boy gave some smart answers about work ethic, saying that he knew it was a personal issue of his and that he knew it would be important for college and for a career to be a diligent worker. Note: I kept my mouth shut the whole time.
So I think it’s all to the good for Geeky Boy to be getting the message that he needs to work harder. But I’m not sure about the message of “having a Plan.” I’ve seen kids with a Plan burn out or want to shift gears but feel lost because it veers from the Plan. And I’ve seen jobs in areas disappear. It just seems like a lot of pressure to put on a 16 year old. I’ve also heard counselors say things like “teens don’t know what they want to do when they grow up”. So maybe kids get mixed messages. And I have to say, it’s hard to be a parent under these conditions. My kid is not self-motivated. If I just let him go willy-nilly, he’d likely flunk out of school completely. But pushing him too hard is also de-motivating. There’s got to be a happy medium between forcing him to have a Plan, and just letting things fall where they may. Sigh. I’m starting to miss the terrible two’s.