Now that we’re half a year out from the whole circus I’m looking back, and holy crap, that was really terrible. The level of tension, the relentless, practically violent admissions and testing marketing at the kids, the unceasing demands that the kids make serious decisions about a whole lot of things they know nothing about…it’s the whole industry of adults who should know better and all the nutzoid parents all-capsing the kids for years. I feel scarred by it. It’s just dawning on me now what it must be like for the kids. Absolutely dreadful and wrong. I feel somewhat ashamed.
AP scores came out a while back and I haven’t asked what they were, nor will I. Her grades and scores are no longer my business. It’s up to her not to lose her scholarships, not exactly a reach, but if she needs help she can say so.
My kid’s going to the local flagship U, and I’ve told her to use the time to study and do things she actually cares about, with some commitment and without regard to what people are telling her about jobs. Fortunately, the school’s too threadbare to be very muscular about grabbing the kids and success-shouting at them, despite the honors program. I hope she has some good courses, finds things she wants to do, gets her mind shaped a bit by whatever discipline she cares for, gets some good student jobs, finds a couple of boyfriends (or girlfriends) along the way, makes a few solid friends, dances her brains out, does some growing up with her friends and gets to understand herself a bit better, learns to live with other people, does some things that are stupid but not irreversibly stupid, spends a little more time than she can afford on a study-abroad or in a nearby city, learns to grab opportunities she actually wants, comes home for dinner once in a while. Has college, in other words, and comes out without debt. And then goes and figures out how to make a living.
I’m aware that in important respects her life will be made harder by the fact that she won’t be at a top-whatever school strapped into a success car, and that it’ll have repercussions. That’s in the nature of the massive inequality that’s opened up in this society in the last few decades, that chasm between top tiny percent and the rest. And yet, and yet…I keep having this feeling that she accidentally dodged a serious bullet, and so did I. I feel a little shellshocked, looking back at that horrible process. I think we should all be ashamed of it, frankly, all us adults.