I got my college transcripts over the weekend, which is quite a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it means that the college application process should speed along nicely now. On the other, I am confronted by my erratic-at-best performance the first time around. I fell asleep last night working out an essay about the whys and what fors but it was replaced overnight by massive amounts of snot.
It’s really pretty sobering to realize that I had forgotten about at least two of the classes I took in my two years in college. I remember relatively little of what I learned while in college. I was a little surprised to see how bad my grades were overall, especially after a school career with barely anything under a C+. And I did a little fist-shaking over the whole thing because I am so not the type of person who blows everything off for partying anymore.
Back then? Oh hell yes. College was, in many ways, my childhood. I spent my early childhood years immersed in ice skating. It started out after school and moved to before-after-and, for a while, weekends. And it cost a lot of money so it was important to my family that I not waste time or not progress. Which, to be honest, was a lot of pressure on me both because of the actual pressure and because of my tendency to crave approval. I quit skating in 8th grade, and a year later my mom and I moved in with the man who would be my brother’s father.
I learned a lot during those years. About working, about needing to take responsibility for getting myself up and to school and keeping my grades up without anyone riding my ass. I also learned that gin glasses smelled horrible the next day and that one man could drink an awful lot of Budweiser. I learned that it was tough to get chili out of a Tupperware container when it had been microwaved for too long. I learned that sometimes it was easier when your husband was traveling for business. And later, I learned about diaper changing, daycare pick-ups, miscarriages and cleaning baby puke off of furniture.
By the time college came around, I was pretty convinced that I could handle it with my normal maturity. I had been self-starting and self-motivating for several years, taking tough classes, and I both was expected and expected myself to sail through school and on to grad school.
The thing is, though, I couldn’t handle not having the pressure to excel. I got the opportunity to do what I wanted and make my own choices and I chose to goof off and party. And I think it was good for me in some ways. Maybe not my fried brain cells and certainly not looking at transferable credits from this vantage point. The thing is, when you go from having no choices as a young child to having to be a full grown-up as a teen, there’s a lot of letting off steam that doesn’t happen and a serious lack of confidence in one’s ability to make choices. Like I said, it isn’t all bad. But the farther I get from those days, the more I’m able to see why I had so much trouble in college.
Anyhow, this is why I have no problem letting Lucy run around in a red jumper with blue pants and a pink striped shirt. This is also why she is not taking any classes or playing any sports until she’s older and we’re not feeling as though we’re struggling to find time for her to just play. And most of all it’s why I constantly remind myself that she’s a very small child and nobody’s college career was ever decided by what classes she took at five years old and nobody’s work ethic was ever thwarted by not having enough extracurricular activities in kindergarten (for the record, at five I started ice skating, took an art class wherein I determined I wasn’t a very good artist, and was taking ballet and tap.)
I’m also trying to remind myself that being mature has nothing to do with how many responsibilities you take on and that grown-ups probably need extracurriculars more than kids do.
Read Full Post »