High School Doesn’t Define You……

papersWhat you’re looking at in this picture, is a stack of interim reports and progress reports that my sweet daughter hid from me, when she was a freshman and sophomore in high school. She is home from college for a few days before heading to the beach with friends for a few more days, and then back to school for some summer classes, and then on to her senior year! The subject of grades came up last night for some reason, and she said “I think all the high school reports I hid from you are still in the back of a drawer in my room.”

We went upstairs and sure enough, there they were, reminders of a painful time 6 or 7 years ago. Painful for all of us. She was really struggling in the private school she attended…a very good school, but not the right school for her. And it was a complicated situation, but in the end she found a school that was right for her…she got a fresh start, and while she still struggles to this day on tests, she has found ways to work around what she doesn’t do well, with what she does do well, like day to day assignments, and reports.

I asked her if she remembered a clipping I gave her years ago to put in her wallet, and to pull it out whenever she was having a terrible day. I don’t remember who wrote it but it went like this….a woman told a girl in high school that she should enjoy it, those were the best years of her life. The girl looked stricken, and with good reason. High school very often isn’t the best years of someone’s life, thank God. Some people make bad grades, others are social outcasts….and if they think this is the best it’s gonna get, well….that’s not much to look forward to. But the truth is , if you saw most people 10 years after high school, they would bear little resemblance to who they were back then. The geeks have become successful business people, the outcasts have found themselves in college and lief beyond, the people who struggle with their grades make it through, and no one cares 10 years later if you were the valedictorian. High school doesn’t define you.

With some help, my baby girl has gone on to become a confidant, strong young woman, and I’m so proud of her. I asked why she hid the reports, knowing that I’d eventually learn the truth. She said, “I was afraid you’d be mad at me.” When I said, “No I wouldn’t have been mad…concerned of course. Want to help you, yes, but not mad. ” And I wouldn’t have been.  I knew she was struggling and wanted to do better. But she just couldn’t face it, and stuck an unpleasant truth in the back of her drawer.

She read some of them to me out loud last night, and I think in some way it was cathartic  for her…she even found some of them funny. I still felt a twinge of pain for her hearing them…it is one of the most painful things for a parent…to have a kid who is struggling, and all you can do is provide support. But here we are, years later…almost a senior in college….happy I think…she’s getting there. But then, we’re all a work in progress.

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4 Responses

  1. Donna,

    What an excellent observation. My high school class has remained unbelievably close over the years. Many of the most popular kids who breezed through High School would probably say that High School were the best years of their lives. How sad is that? High School is four years…..and if that is the best part of your life, you are not living life very well. I remain close to my High School friends and we are approaching our 30th year reunion…..and while I look back fondly on my pre-college school years…..they are hardly the best years of my life. Being an optomist…..I think the best is yet to come…..

  2. Donna,
    My son also struggled in high school; left a private school for a public school, and did better, but it was still a struggle. Your post brought back so many memories of those years. My husband cried when I showed him your daughter’s story. He always told our son that high school was something to just get through, and it would all work out. And, it has. He’s in college, doing well, has alot of friends, and seems happy. He will graduate next year, and has a great future ahead of him. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Nancy and Michael, thank you for sharing your thoughts. And I almost came to tears my self writing it. Those were really some tough times, and when you make it to the other side, such a relief. As a friend of mine once remarked, “You’re only as happy as your least happy child.” So true, so true.

  4. Donna,

    Great Observation, “We’re all a work in progress”. I think that sums up a lot of situations folks struggle with. Try to learn something from it which will make you stronger & make you a better person.

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