Thursday, August 24, 2006

There Is Hope For Her Yet

I was never a very good student. I always got very excited this time of year what the new school supplies and the new year and a chance at a fresh start. This year, I would think to myself, was going to be different. But it never was. A couple of months into the year I would fall behind, struggle and by the end of the year I would barely scrape by with passing grades. I have asked myself why on so many occasions. Why did I have such a difficult time in school? Now that I am much older (almost 30!) and much wiser I think I have some of the answers.

Neither one of my parents graduated from high school. While that makes some parents even more determined to see their own children graduate, causing them to have very high expectations for their kids and put a lot of pressure on them to do well. This was not the case with my parents. I didn't feel that they were too concerned with how I did in school. I knew they expected me to pass and even if my grades were barely passing, that seemed good enough to them. I often wondered if they had given me even the slightest impression that they actually would like to see me do better, that they would be proud even, if I would have tried harder. Knowing myself like I do I think the answer would be 'yes'. I believe I simply didn't try that hard because I never felt driven to do so. As a friend told me in an email today “You seem to do anything you put your mind to.” I only wish I had made up my mind to do better in school.

Like any kid though I had my strengths and weaknesses. Math – Major weakness. Anything creative was a strength. Imagine that. Subjects that fell in between those two extremes yielded the mediocre marks you would expect. Another major problem in my academic career was my social life. During the thirteen years I spent living in a small town I was incessantly bullied which I'm certain played a big role in my academic struggles. I know for a fact that it permanently damaged my self esteem. Along with being called ugly I was often called stupid. So I had nothing going for me. At least if I was simply stupid I'd have my looks to fall back on! Of course I'm past this now (mostly) and I can speak medium heartedly about it. But again it causes me to wonder about the potential that may have been wasted during those years.

Once we moved to 'the big city' my social life was again a distraction. Only this time it was because I had a lot of friends. I wouldn't have classified myself as being 'popular' but I got along with most people in my high school. I wanted people to like me so badly that I spent most of my time and energy making that happen. Since that had been such a struggle in the place I lived before I assumed it would be in this new place as well. It took me a while to stop trying so hard.

Suddenly I found myself in my last year of high school, needing to pass every class I was taking in order to graduate. By this time I had set my own standards for myself and although I had never done that well in school I was determined NOT to spend another year in school. I surpassed all of my own as well as anyone else's expectations and passed everything very comfortably. So comfortably in fact that I received a scholarship for being 'the most improved grade 12 student'. I had no idea they gave money to you just for finally getting your butt in gear.

So where am I going with this story? It all leads back to Little A. I want more for her. I am already thinking about what I can do as a parent to make her life easier. When she goes to school I want her to know that I will be proud of her when she lives up to her potential and yes, disappointed when she doesn't do her best. I will encourage her but not pressure her.

Her father is a genius. He will laugh when he reads this and tell me that I am ridiculous and shouldn't say things like that, especially on the internet. But that is only because he is humble. He is the smartest person I know. And the best thing about him? Even though he is smarter than me and a lot of other people, he never makes anyone feel stupid. To me that is a true sign of intelligence. When you don't have to make other people feel dumb to make yourself feel smart. I believe that intelligence can be passed on genetically and I am so grateful that Little A is going to benefit from her fathers great mind. He and I often joke that if she gets a nice balance of his brains with my social skills she's going to have a great life!

This post all stemmed from these pictures of A. She is in love with books. Often when I notice she's wandered off somewhere and is disturbingly quiet I will find her in her room flipping through pages in one of her books and jabbering away to herself. I know that she isn't 'reading' but the fact that she is so interested in her books gives me hope. On days when she's driving me batty because she's getting into everything I can always settle her down by sitting her on my lap and reading to her. Those are the times when I really feel like I'm doing something important. I feel like I might be making her future just a little bit brighter. So here are the pictures. She's sitting in her new big girl chair which was an early birthday gift from her Grandma.


plantain said...

I like that last picture...
"Hey, Baby A - what you up to?"
"Oh, you know, just chillaxin'!"

bon said...

Feeling a little bit sniffly after reading that... and you ARE doing so mauch that is VASTLY important for that darling!

Guess what... by the by... you have to have boo-cooop brains to write the way that you do! So stick THAT in yer pipe and smoke it!

LynAnne said...

I had a very similar experience as you did. Neither of my parents went to college - my father didn't even go to high school (he lived in Germany during WWII). I think the difference is I had a teacher that changed my attitude towards school. Too bad he couldn't have dealth with the bullies...

I think A is going to benefit from the great minds of BOTH of her parents. How you did in school is not a good measure of your intelligence. There are countless examples of very bright minds who struggled in school.

I think I've read your blog long enough to have figured out that you are a very intelligent, creative and insightful person. I'm so sad that your past continues to haunt you and make you think otherwise. Believe in yourself! A is a very lucky girl to have two parents that are so smart!

Nikkie said...

For what its worth, I think you are very smart, and it clearly shows through this blog. I think Baby A will do great with you and Peter to guide her.

Dawnyel said...

I'm sure your daughter will do well in whatever she wants to do! She's got you for a mama, and that's a GOOD thing!! :)
The chair reminds me of the MOVIES they have for Little People...Ack! The memories!

Jenn said...

I can relate to you in a lot of ways. I have lots of thoughts in my head right now they just don't know how to form properly. We'll talk one day.

In the meantime, I think you're a fabulous writer and A is blessed to have such wonderful parents.