Opera is playing in the kitchen. Yes it is. But I fear that it's too late. My eldest is buried under SAT prep and term papers and my youngest is in his room easily maneuvering between homework and the computer 'thing.'
Are we the normal American family? Is this what we have become? I promise you I have never over scheduled my kids yet here I am amazed at how much we all have to juggle. Will 'shadowed' another high school today. Tomorrow he will 'shadow' his final school. That will make five schools he has toured. That means I had to call those schools, make the appointments and get Will there. There were applications and interviews and open houses. And this is just high school.
Kyle studies all the time. Well, in all honesty, I don't know when he is not studying because his computer is always open and I have no idea if he is on facebook, his music page, or if he really is doing the research for that term paper he says he is working on.
And then there is their fencing tournaments. Both my kids are fencers. Yesterday, Kyle spent the entire day in Oakland at a qualifier for Nationals. He came home scratched up, bruised and exhausted...and we are talking fencing here, not football. But he had a huge grin. He made Nationals.
And why all this craziness? I have always wanted my children to have choices. I was afraid that something they did or did not do in elementary school might effect middle school, what they did in middle school might effect high school, and what they did in high school would effect college, etc. etc. etc. So, I became part of the "Race to Nowhere." I instilled this notion so much in my kids that now Kyle stresses that he will have choices when it comes time to go to the 'right' college. I have done my boys a huge disservice. And now I am caught in a vicious cycle.
I think back to when I went to college and I applied to two schools. I didn't go to an independent school just the school a few blocks from my house. I took the SAT one time. And I'm sure I didn't study for it. I think I remember one Stanley Kaplan review course but that was it. My score was good enough. I didn't need all the choices in the world. So why have I been so obsessed with choices.
I think it has come out of fear. Since the day I held my newborn in my arms, the baby boomers were asking me if I had put my name down in a pre-school of my choice. It started then. My babies were not even walking or talking, just pooping an peeing and I had put their names down at the 'right' pre-schools. There were interviews and applications. And it has just spiraled from there.
I wanted to live in an area that had the best public school district. And I still checked out independent schools. I toured and evaluated. I talked to other parents. And the fear kept escalating.
I have spent years making sure I made the right choices to give my kids the opportunity to have choice.
Now I know that all these choices I have made, have made us a little less happy. And is anything worth happiness?
If I had it to over again I don't think I would step on the treadmill of never ending opportunity. I think I would have settled for just fine. My kids would have blossomed at their own pace and we would all have been so much less stressed.
Now, to do this I would have needed blinders and earplugs because the voices all around you speak of all the things one MUST do. It is so easy to get caught up in this ridiculous race.
And I blame myself for making my kid's lives so much more complicated than they needed to be. I hope I have not caused them to much harm but I know that I have caused a little bit of harm. And I am sorry for that.
But the craziness needs to stop. And we need to be part of the solution.
I promise I will never ask a newborn's mom to make sure she puts his or her name on a list to make sure he or she gets into pre-school!
Have you been caught up in this race to nowhere? What would you do differently? Do you do things out of fear? How should I move forward?
THE RACE TO NOWHERE is a film by director Vicki Abeles