I’m not happy with my blog post today. It has way more questions than it does answers. It is just my raw, uncut worries at this point with no real conclusions. I’d hoped that by writing about my concerns I might be able to find some clarity, but this time I haven’t been able to tie everything neatly up in a little bow by the end. Read at your own risk:
My oldest daughter started registering for high school last month and it’s sent me into a tailspin.
(I think I have anxiety, but that is another post for another day.)
I’m reeling, not because she is growing up or moving on – I’ve actually accepted that children mature and progress; anything different would mean there were some serious problems – but, I’m reeling, because I feel tremendous pressure to help Elle figure out the rest of her life through her freshman schedule.
I may be blowing this out of proportion, but it feels likes she’s planning her future not just next year’s classes.
Does she take French or Spanish? She is much more interested in French, but Spanish is way more practical?
How many honors classes should she take? Are we going for academic stardom or mental health here?
Should she scale back on dance and instead take an AP class as a freshman that is very time consuming?
Then of course there are the electives – where you have a million choices and two open slots.
And it doesn’t help that I’ve been ruminating on pseudo passions since I read “Our Push For ‘Passion,’ and Why It Harms Kids” by Lisa Heffernan about a year ago. One point she makes is that pseudo passions could be keeping us from our real passions. The author states, “Pseudo passions can eat up our days and lay waste to any chance of finding real ones.” The article acknowledges that just because you are good at or have a natural tendency for something doesn’t make it your true passion.
Right now Elle would say ballet is her passion. She works hard at dance and never complains about going. She dances four to five days a week and is continually dancing around the home. She loves ballet’s vocabulary, music, technique, and challenge; she even loves the color of ballet slippers. Recently, due to some different experiences, I’ve been questioning if ballet is her true passion or just a pseudo one. Is dance taking up too much of her time so she can’t explore other possibilities? Would her real passions be elsewhere if she were given time and space to explore? It’s not my place to tell her what her passion is, but it is my place to make sure she knows there is more out there than just dance.
I guess I’m regretting my high school days where all I did was sports. Imagine if I had found journalism or graphic design or interior design or debate when I was younger – when I had time to explore and experiment with little risk. I wish someone would have pulled me aside and said, “Look, Tiffany, you are 5’3″ and you have T-Rex arms and a negative vertical jump. You are never going to be anything in sports. Sure you enjoy them and you are moderately good at them. You are a natural athlete, but sports will not be in your life long term. (Except your son will think you are the coolest mom ever because you can throw a ball with him.) You have many other talents that will prove to be more useful to you in your life. Let’s explore those now.”
I’ve thought about pseudo passions with Crew too. Is his current obsession with sports blocking his true passions and talents? He is so much more than an athlete, but most people, including himself, do not see that. Maybe he could be an artist? a musician? a YouTube sensation? or the best salesman ever because he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer?
As you can see, this is a complicated subject and Elle’s high school registration has brought it all to a head. Schools are pushing for her to know where she wants to go and what she wants to do in life. I’m wanting her to have more time to experiment, but time is running out. She’s getting to the age where it’s not as easy or as beneficial to just dabble in all kinds of interests. I feel the pressure to have her pick a lane and then excel.
Another “problem” is that Elle has so many lanes to choose from. At parent-teacher conference’s last month Elle’s yearbook teacher praised her up and down and told her he sees her being the Editor of the high school yearbook. He was that impressed with her leadership, organization, and design abilities. Does she pick the computer skills, graphic design, project management yearbook lane?
Her history teacher told her she could do AP Geography as a freshman, but advises not to do any other honors classes because of the amount of homework in that one class. Her math teacher wants her to do Honors Math and her English teacher wants her in Honors English. Does she take the academic, five hours of homework a night, college credit lane?
Elle’s ballet teacher says Elle has “so much potential.” She has no limitations in her body and an unbelievable focus, work ethic, and desire to improve. Do we actually up her dance involvement? (Have mercy on my bank account.) Do we have her perform more? Does she take the three to four hours a day, six days a week dancing lane?
Then of course there are the news broadcaster, real estate, marketing or cosmetologist lanes. Elle’s shown interest and aptitude in all of these. There are electives offered for all of these classes as well.
As we’ve been stressing over all the decisions to be made, Elle asked me, “Why can’t I just do it all?” She wants to continue to dance to the maximum, take all the honors classes she can, and pack her schedule full of electives.
I wish she could do it all, but she doesn’t have sufficient time. Besides having only two electives slots, the demands are too great to do everything else. I don’t want her burned out before she even goes to college, and I want her to still be kind to her family (something that tends to go out the window when she is overburdened).
And to be honest, I don’t have sufficient money or energy for her to do it all either. Dance alone is an exorbitant amount of money if she wants to go to the next level. And I’ve got three other kids, a husband, my own passions and my own issues. As much as I wish I were, I’m not the Energizer bunny. I’m not willing to sacrifice my sanity and the peace in my home for a possible college application.
Choices have to be made. Some this month.
We’ve been praying about it, but no clarity yet. I know it will all work out. I know Elle can change her mind. I know we can adjust her schedule – midyear if we have to. I know pseudo passions can open up doors to real passions. I know she has a lifetime to figure it all out. But all of this future knowing doesn’t help us make decisions now.
I guess I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board, blow it all up, and invent our own plan.