I don't often blog about my life outside of my SP weight loss efforts, but I realized this week just how uniquely stressful my current situation is, and I feel motivated to discuss it here just so I can keep my sanity.
I realized this week that the next six months are going to be seriously challenging ones for my family, because both The Hubs and The Kiddo face serious academic challenges that will affect their lives, for better or for worse, depending upon their performance.
Yeah, I know: heavy sh#t!
Let's start with The Kiddo, since her test comes first...
The Kiddo goes to public school, which I fully support -- and while I did, initially, have doubts about her particular elementary school, it's really surprised me over the years. Part of that may be because she tested into the Gifted Program, practically from Day 1, which has certainly helped.
Now, while I do like her Elementary School, I emphatically DO NOT like the local Middle or High School. They're notoriously overcrowded, they seem to be far more committed to their successful sports teams than they are to their academics and while there are certainly worse schools in the state, there are most certainly better ones as well.
For instance, our county's school system has a number of great Magnet School programs, the best of which, in my opinion, is this one school that -- surprise, surprise! -- admits only a very limited number of children each year. BUT, once your kid gets in, they stay in -- as in continue on up the Magnet School system for the rest of their schooling. If you can keep up your grades, you stay out of the crappy schools, all the way until you graduate from High School.
But first, you gotta get in.
That starts with taking a specific standardized test, and achieving a specific, spectacular grade. The names of the kids who reach that magical grade are then placed into a lottery, and names are drawn.
It's like "The Hunger Games", without all the, you know, killing.
Children who aren't picked in the lottery end up on a waiting list in the hopes that some of the chosen children will wet their pants out of fear and decide not to go, or straight-up flunk out in the first semester. Any wait-listed kids that don't get in are welcome to try again next year, and the year after that, over and over, until 6th grade.
Some families try every year and never get in, even if they test perfectly every time. Some families have one kid win the lottery and their other kid try year after year and never make it. There are no legacy considerations here. Once you've proven your intellect, it's entirely, frustratingly, left up to chance.
So, back to The Kiddo. This afternoon, she finished the first part of the standardized test. She'll go back next Saturday to take the final part. This week was in her wheelhouse - reading comprehension, vocab, grammar -- easy peasy for my literate little monkey. Next week's not too bad, with Science and Social Studies -- except for the Math.
For the last six weeks, she and I have worked on math for at least an hour each night, trying to undo the damage done by her less-than-capable third grade math teacher. It's been an effing nightmare, these tutoring sessions, full of pre-teen drama and mother/daughter angst. Oh, and door slamming. Happily, each night would end with both of us eventually chilling the heck out and getting some real learning in. More good news: she now comes to me when she has math questions about her regular classwork, because, she says, "You know the easy ways to do things". Score!
Today's test, she thinks, went well, as expected. She actually said that today was "fun", which I think had less to do with the joy of test-taking and more to do with the fact that they administered the test in a Middle School (so exotic for an elementary school kid)! Next week is the tricky test, though, so between the hours of 8:30am and 2pm next Saturday, please say a prayer, light a candle, or at least recite the first fourteen digits of Pi in hopes that The Kiddo will kick some @ss on her math test!
We'll get the test results in early January, and then, if all is well, we enter her into the lottery, which occurs in March (presuming we all survive the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse, of course...).
So, one stressball explained. On to the next:
The Hubs is a creative-turned-academic, currently pursuing his Ph.D. so that he can get a full-time gig teaching at a "real" school (he spent many years as a full-time prof at an Art School and now he's a part-time, or "Adjunct" prof at a local, actual, university).
The path to receiving his Ph.D. has been a long and arduous one, and one that I'm not going to go into detail about for a variety of reasons. But, suffice it to say that he has a big test to take this spring, one that, if he passes, will allow him to move forward and begin work on his dissertation. If he fails, however, it will either mean that the last four years of money, sacrifice and hard work were all for naught -- or it will mean that it's time to hire an attorney, which nobody wants.
Another way to look at it is that if he passes, he'll likely earn his degree and settle into the job he was born to do -- with the kind of job security and wages that will allow us to finally breathe a little. If he fails, though, he will likely have to resign himself to teaching on a high school level, teaching subjects he doesn't like for less money and ultimately, less security.
(Not that there's anything wrong with HS, it's just there isn't much call for full time Media/Film teachers in your average, everyday high school...)
So, yeah. No pressure!
Ultimately, what this all adds up to is that the next six months are going to be seriously challenging for *me* as well, because there's not a whole helluva lot I can do to help my little family. All I can do is try and be there for them and follow the winds as they shift.
(And that's *precisely* the way a control freak like me likes to live. It's no wonder I started running -- I needed to exert some control over SOMETHING in my life!)
So, all of this goes to say, please be patient with me in the coming months. I may need to blow off some steam online here from time to time because I really can't do it in my real life. One thing's for certain: the track is going to be taking a real pounding as my stress level ramps up!
Thanks for reading this long recitation - it really helped to get it out, and I'll keep you posted as things develop!
(image source: neatoday.org)