Today is the first day of the last school year my daughter will not be in high school.
God willing, that is.
While I do not know if I could follow through on this, I told her a couple of weeks ago I will request her school keep her in eighth grade for an additional year if she does not have the study habits, organization and focus to succeed in high school come June 2019. And that’s regardless of whether or not she passes her classes and they say she’s ready to advance, I told her.
TRUTH IS, THOUGH, FOR all of this desire I posses for her to succeed academically, I really just want her to be happy. I don’t care what she pursues in high school and after. She’s talked about becoming a vet. An artist. A writer. Whatever she wants to do – even if this path does not include college – is fine by me.
But she has to find something into which she must pour her heart.
I get disappointed when I see her putting more effort into her hairstyle, makeup and friendships than school. Actually, it isn’t the comparison of these two levels of effort that gets me as much as it’s the absence of effort academically. I personally think it’s stupid to spend more than 30 minutes preparing one’s self to face the world in the morning, but I understand it is what 13-year-old girls do and I don’t say much.
That is, until I begin getting e-mails from teachers about her not being prepared in class or completing her homework. Until the Power School app starts showing blank spaces and zeroes for assignments.
Then her focus on appearance becomes a source of contention.
I KEEP HAVING THIS conscious nightmare Kalista is going to start high school with no goals. With no goals, she has nothing to work toward. With nothing to work toward, she will have no motivation and – ultimately – never achieve anything because she never really tried. This applied to life beyond high school is a problem – one that leads to self-esteem issues that compound into things even worse.
Selfishly, I also want her to succeed so I can praise her. I love doing that. I love taking her out to dinner, giving her money to go shopping, letting her do things she isn’t normally allowed to do. I love looking at her with shock inside because she’s among her friends and is talking like she’s 30. I love hearing her say “thank you, Daddy” before hugging me as she’s walking into her bedroom for the night.
I love praising her as much as I hate being hard on her.
SO HERE IS TO my daughter’s last year of middle school. May she try her hardest. May she stay up late to study. May her friends be friends and rivals be gentle. May her first school day as a teenager be as intriguing, enthralling and captivating to her as her first day of kindergarten.
But most of all, may she know today – and all days – she herself is intriguing, enthralling and captivating. May she not only know she’s beautiful, may she feel it.
I hope she is always happy.