Our previous post, from here on to be called the “Holy Moly!” post, caused quite a stir! Yes!! I love it when we’re all sharing about stuff that really gets us going! Today I’d like to continue the ‘conversation’ by sharing an email I received from the friend who originally posted the New York Times article that kicked this whole thing off.
If you didn’t read the Holy Moly! post, click here to get up to speed.
As you read the email below, please be thinking of any comments you’d like to add. By keeping this conversation alive, I believe it’s helping parents everywhere to know: they’re not alone, we recognize this is a multi-layered topic, and we’re here to support one another while we sort through it.
I had so many thoughts spinning around my head when I posted that article the other day, but at the same time I was sort of speechless. So, I just posted it with a short tagline and left if at that….all the while the article is still spinning in my head.
I’m not sure where to start or how to organize my thoughts on it, so I’m going to go free form with this writing…honest and all.
My initial thought was fear. I was frightened because even if I rock the house on the don’t do drugs campaign to my kids, I can see how this sort of drug use can be appealing to those kids who would never do the illegal drugs – cocaine, pot, etc. I can see how this type of drug use can be justified as ok to the kids who know better than to do the “real” drugs. I was too scared to do drugs in high school for tons of reasons, but I can see how something like this might not seem so scary and I may have tried it. So now, the “good girls” aren’t even safe from the world of drugs. I felt defeated as a parent just reading it…like no matter how good I do on the don’t do drugs talk, there is still this and it will probably win. I know that is very pessimistic and I know better and I will try, I will really try, but that is definitely how I felt while reading it.
I appreciate how you approached the article through your posts…about accepting that your best is good enough and being ok with that. And to take the pressure off the kids and all of that. But I don’t think it is that simple (and that isn’t even simple!). Let’s say the kid does accept his best as being good enough, he’s a well-adjusted kid completely comfortable in his/her own skin…but maybe this kid is feeling a little lazy, or just not that interested in this particular subject matter, or has some exciting event going on that week and it’s distracting him from his schoolwork or studying for a test – well, there is a drug for that. And no matter how well adjusted one might be, everyone feels lazy sometimes, or desires a short cut at some point. That is what is so fucking frightening to me. No matter how scared a kid may be to try drugs, no matter how good they feel about themselves, no matter how supportive and loving and non-pressurery their parents may be…there is still this and it has the potential to appeal to anyone. So yes, I’m still feeling defeated.
The article also spoke of where I live…not directly, but Southlake breeds highly successful people. This year our high school won more state championships than any other school in Texas ever, plus the kids are freakin brilliant. And here is the kicker…they look happy. The teenagers I know and see around town seem to enjoy their life. They don’t look stressed or defeated or beat down….they laugh, they smile, they look happy. I know appearances don’t tell the whole story…I get that. But there aren’t a bunch of tragic stories here…there is a pretty positive vibe where I live. And remember how I had never heard of in-school suspension at my daughter’s school – they don’t have it…not in elementary school…these are well-behaved kids too.
But expectations are high. In the fall of 4th grade the students take a standardized test that places them in their math track for 5th grade and beyond. Yes, there was a lot of talk of high school math placement at our 5th grade parent orientation. 5th grade here is just like middle and high school – 8 periods, 8 teachers, lockers, change classes, etc. The organizational expectation alone is too much for these kids…but they do it, they may struggle at first, but they figure it out and do it. And the expectations aren’t just high for grades…we breed winners here…we have traditions to protect (the protecting traditions comment is actually a tagline used around here).
And despite all my fear and worry, I’m not willing to leave the school district yet. I have had deep conversations about whether or not this is the best place to raise my children…will they get lost here, is this the best environment for them to learn, etc. But I haven’t moved yet. For all that I don’t love about where I live, there are parts on the flip side of the coin that I do appreciate. My kids will get a great education, they won’t walk through metal detectors to get to their classes, they have access to great coaches and instructors in their extra curricular activities, and so much more. But yes, all of it comes with the price of high expectations. And are high expectations so bad if the kid is capable??? I wonder.
My mind is still all over the place on this…so many sidebar subjects are coming up. The bottom line is I’m scared. I’m scared that no matter what I do, this type of drug use will feel safe and appealing to my children…and I can see why they would feel that way.
I do know that is all comes down to trust. As parents, we have to do the best that we can; love, teach and support our little chickens and trust them to make good choices….and even when they don’t, well, we have to find trust in that too.
*Taken from the site where I found the above picture of the high school ring, “The rings are absolutely blinged out, covered in what appear to be diamonds and other gems (though, to be fair, they could be facsimiles of the precious stones). With a central design that incorporates the school’s USC-like logo, it also includes a whopping 40 white stones (diamonds or otherwise) in the central motif and eight, emerald-like green stones around the ring’s border.”
She mentioned something about breeding winners, didn’t she? Well, I’ll say!! I just had to include that visual once I found it!
No additional commentary from me, other than to thank my friend for posting the New York Times article, then sharing her thoughts and fears so openly with us here today.
Do you have something to share on the topic? I’d love to hear from you. We’d all love to hear from you.