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Testing Limits

Saturday, December 08, 2012

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.
(Or something.)

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.

Effin' 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!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • CHARITY1973
    Thanks for sharing these stresses. Managing stress is so fundamental to a healthy lifestyle and ultimately weight loss/fitness gains. If I don't have running and specific hardcore events I've paid money to enter I can let stress eat me up. I love control and its allure of certainty but life is one big fat uncertainty. You got a lot of uncertainty sitting on your plate. Not 'eating' that uncertainty but sitting with it will ultimately lead to inner strength beyond great running legs!

    And if they both end up in sh*t schools you will make it work. I'm the product of a rural, poor country school in TN. Most of my learning was self driven and parent led. You'll make it work!

    But I still wish you the path of security and opportunity, no need for 'making it work' if you don't need to!

    2317 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/14/2012 6:08:19 PM
    Oh wow. That does sound stressful. I know stress can derail everything. It's my number one trigger for binge eating. I hope it all gets sorted out soon.
    2320 days ago
    Blogging is a huge stress reliever, so let it all out! As you can see from the comments you already have, we're all here supporting you! xoxo
    2322 days ago
    Sounds like you have a couple of mental warriors.They are sharpening their swords for the battle ahead. You just have to trust and wait to see the outcome,which can be nerve racking. I am the parent of an honor student who represented his district and we sat on pins and needles and he was selected to do battle in a magnet school. I know exactly what you are going through there.
    Great job on being supportive,that helps a great deal.Try not to stresss too much( like that is going to happen) It does not do well for the skin.
    Well best of luck to all of you. emoticon I hope it goes the way you want it to.
    I believe that Sparkpeople is not just about weight loss. Life is composed of so much more than mere weight loss and nutrition. Life does happen occassionally.
    2322 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/9/2012 2:08:23 PM
    As someone who has no reluctance whatsoever in cross pollinating fitness thoughts and real life thoughts (and who says they're unrelated? I mean, stress obviously has an impact on your health), I think it's good to let off steam wherever you can. This is, as you well know, a supportive community, whether it's celebrating our weighty triumphs or sympathizing with temporary slides.

    Bottom line, if you have to vent, use us. We might be here for different reasons, but we're here for each other.

    Here's to your kiddo owning that math test.
    2322 days ago
    Stress sucks. Even more when it is on behalf of others and there is nothing you can do about it. I wish both your daughter and husband the best of luck with there exams and I wish you lots of stress relieving running!
    2322 days ago
    I'm glad that you felt comfortable enough to share this with us here. I find it really helpful to blog about stressful events in my life here, even if they're not weight/health related, as this is such a supportive community.

    I am sorry to hear that you are going through all this stress! And it's one of the worst kinds, because while you can be super supportive and helpful to your loved ones, it really boils down to their performance. The waiting is the hardest part! I will keep my fingers crossed for you and your family, that everything goes smoothly. It's a crazy and competitive world out there. But it sounds as if your loved ones are doing all they can to succeed!

    I'm glad you have your running to help you deal with the stress. Keep us posted!

    2322 days ago
    Oh wow, that's a lot of stress to deal with. You know you can always come here for hugs, venting, virtual cups of coffee etc if it gets too much for you.
    2322 days ago
    Dear lord! Good luck to you all :)
    2322 days ago
    Glad you have an outlet! I am also super jealous that it is running. I have never been able to run (doesn't stop me from trying from time to time). I think your kid will be fine. Your an active and involved parent even if she doesn't get into the magnet school you will ensure that she will thrive at the public school. Also if your hubs gets this nicer job you may be able to afford private schools so there is that. Speaking of the hubs. Life is what you make it if he fails, which I doubt he will, he has other opportunities beyond high school teaching if that's not what he wants to do. Maybe he could get a job traveling the world paying buco bucks and you could home school your child on the streets of Paris or in the shadow of the pyramids. All things are possible. Don't stress just take things as they come. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and take what you get. GOOD LUCK!
    2322 days ago
    *super duper huge hugs*
    Fingers crossed, candles lit, mantras repeated... And all that good junk!
    No stress in your life at all, eh?

    2322 days ago
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