I was briefly so excited about the start of school. School keeps us regulated. It provides Hope with some social engagement. It makes us (me) feel productive.
But the reality is that it all just sucks.
School is hard for Hope. Like really hard. Like really, really hard.
She’s smart, but she’s got some limitations and despite wishing really, really hard, she’s not going to be a valedictorian. She’s an average kid.
I don’t do average. My issue, not hers.
I’m an overachiever. My sisters and I pride ourselves in doing and being better than 100%.
This overachiever/perfectionist thing is a problem, but that’s a whole other issue.
So, realizing that getting Hope on honor is like me scaling Mt. Rushmore has been hard to accept for me. Heck getting her to do reasonably well in each of her classes consistently is like me roller blading in spandex pants with just a bra top on the beach. I mean, it can happen, but it won’t be pretty and I’d probably end up with a couple of broken bones.
I’ve hired tutors and sent Hope to a commercial learning center. I regularly visit the school counselors. I check in with her teachers. I schedule visits with her docs to make sure that medications are managed. I pay for private testing so that we don’t have to wait months and months for data that will inform educational decisions. I have nagged, I have begged and pleaded to get homework done. Hell, I’ve even written a 9th grade essay just to get us across a finish line (this is particularly painful as I was my university’s honor code chair in undergrad. Look what parenting does to you!!!) #hangsheadinshame
I have done everything I can think of, and I’m exhausted. And so is Hope.
And you know what?
Hope’s grades haven’t budged upward.
Not at all, not even a little.
If anything, things are harder than ever.
And I’ve fallen into a really negative rut as I try to pull her through assignment to assignment, quarter to quarter, semester to semester.
About two weeks ago, I found myself pondering what must she feel like in the midst of all my interventions.
I see and feel the resistance and the resentment.
I wonder if Hope thinks she’s disappointed me. I wonder if all this effort to ‘help’ her has hurt her. I wonder if I’ve undermined my efforts to build her up. I wonder if I’m just another parent in a long line of parents who have tried to ‘fix” her.
I then starting running over the last few months and really evaluating the state of our mother daughter bond.
It’s ok; I mean, there’s always room for improvement.
Thank I wondered how all my academic efforts might have hindered our attachment. I mean, if I was Hope I might pull back from all the criticism and all the effort to make me perform something that is so hard for me for any number of reasons.
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve made a decision.
After the next holiday break; I’m stopping the tutoring and learning centers. I’m going to still touch base with the counselors and teachers. I’m going to encourage her to breathe and know that she’s not defined by this academic thing. If she needs more time, then she’ll get more time. If she needs more coaching then she will absolutely have it.
I’m going back to prioritizing our relationship over her academic performance. It’s simply more important. She can take more time academically; but we can’t get this time back.
It’s just more important.
I love her, and while I want the best for her and I want her to benefit from all of the things I can give her, I think she really needs love, attention and encouragement.
We’ll come back to the schooling thing in time, but for now, she needs to know I love her just as she is.