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Monday, June 17, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure: Teenager Edition

I've spend the better part of the last few days selecting next school year's curriculum and agonizing over the decisions I've had to make.  There's nothing like looking through hundreds of good choices to make you feel inadequate and wishing you had more time to do all the cool things available.

This is also the time where I feel a little mournful.  It just goes with the territory.

And I have a high schooler.  He's entering the 10th grade this year and all the things he HAS to do are hanging over both our heads.  It's overwhelming.

The thing is, after some self examination, I realize I am leaning towards jealousy of some kind when it comes to my teenager.  You see, he has resources available to him I could only dream about as a child.  While we aren't rich by any means, we do not skimp when it comes to our children's education and we will jump though fiery, poison shooting hoops to make sure every possible opportunity is pursued.  I wish with every ounce of my being that he would see this buffet set before him and would take advantage of it.

When it comes to his character, I have zero complaints.  His heart is good, for the most part, and he really does appear to be a responsible, productive member of society.  But he's got a little of that having the cake and eating it too mentality.  For example, he wants to spend hours on filming, but not on schoolwork....which is what will ultimately propel him to a place where he can go to school for film.  This is so hard to make him  understand and's hard to explain to him.  In order to do that thing you love you need to spend more time on things you don't...and it doesn't really make sense logically.  You'd think if you want to do something you'd have to spend time on that actual thing, not the other stuff that has nothing to do with that thing.  But that's how the world works and it's really hard to paint that picture for a child who doesn't understand it.

So today, inspiration struck.  I need to write a book.  You know those cool books from our youth that allowed you to pick the way the story would go based on different choices that had you flipping to different pages with different outcomes.  I need to write a teenage edition that goes something like this...

"You're in your room. You have 2 hours before dinner and you know you need to do your math homework. You really just want to kill a few bad guys with your wireless remote...

-You choose your math homework, flip to page 24.
-Pfft.  Math is boring.  Bang, bang, shoot em up, flip to  page 56."

Page 24 reads.  "Congratulations, because of your diligence in completing all assigned school work and your efforts in your academic responsibilities you have been accepted to college to pursue your dream of going to film school and by the way here's a cool scholarship that will keep you from paying for college for the next 40 years.  Well done!"

Page 56.  "Please fill out 37 forms to receive your monthly allotment of food stamps.  Rumor has it that Wal-mart just a huge shipment of 78 inch TVs for display and the boxes are still out back. Hot DAMN, you always wanted to build your own house and now you can!  Don't worry about the rain, you need a bath anyways.  Don't you wish you had chosen your homework instead?"

Our children are growing up in affluence, to a certain extent, and I don't think they quite realize they are living off someone else's success.  They have seen their Dad work his tush off to get to this place, but they don't remember the lean years with much clarity.  Every day we push them towards the ideal that hard work is necessary to achieve all those things in life that are the most important.

And some days I just want to throw in the towel. That's just the plain, honest truth.  I go through all the possible scenarios...I make lists and schedules and check lists and then teeter between my responsibility of teaching them to manage their time and my gut feeling that they have to experience certain consequences for themselves as a reality check.

One thing I do know.  Parenting is really flippin hard.

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