Sunday, January 2, 2011

School Daze

Eldest is a good kid. He's 14, but has yet to start to hate everything I do and everything I say and everything I am. He gets excellent grades. In the past couple of months, I've noticed he's become more solicitous, offering on his own to help me with tasks, particularly those of the physical kind. In the past few weeks or so, he's made a point of spending time with us. In a most amazing turnaround, he even shows far more restraint with Youngest than he's been able to muster in years.

[Isn't it funny how I have seemingly forgotten how horrible I found being around my own siblings during my childhood? It's as if I've never experienced firsthand sibling rivalry. Or sibling hatred, for that matter. You mean all the fighting and tattling and disdain and competing for parental attention, if not outright affection, wasn't just a fluke among my siblings? Go figure.]

I was talking to a friend the other day. He has two older kids. The youngest is probably a junior in high school now. He was telling me how horrible high school can be, how his son was a well adjusted and trustworthy sort with good grades. Until high school. A smart kid, his decline went unnoticed until it could go unnoticed no more with the issuance of report cards and the discovery of numerous drug-related texts on his phone.

His kid is much better now, having been yanked from the high school and now on independent study. It is a good high school, as good, if not better, than the one my kids will attend. But, in my friend's eye, its infrastructure is, in good measure, to blame for his son's predicament. And, according to my friend, high school there or high school here or high school anywhere is the same.

I had best be prepared for it to suck in first Eldest, and then Daughter, and, far down the road, Youngest as well.


Big gulp.

He must have thought about what he'd said to me after we'd hung up because not long after he sent an email telling me he didn't mean to say it must be that way and advising me to just keep the kids close to me as they go through high school.

Several days later, another friend was over at the house, telling Pete and me about the kid dealing drugs at another middle school. She was puzzled about where kids would get the drugs, about what tenements they must be visiting to score, and about what type of people the kid must know to get access to the dope.

I laughed, of course, knowing how easy I had it finding drugs in middle school and high school. It was so easy, and I have to believe it hasn't gotten any more difficult. But how could she not know that it is that easy? And how many parents don't know it's that easy? And, of God, it's going to be that easy for my kids.


Big gulp.


Josie Two Shoes said...

Yes, raising kids these days is sary, schools are even scarier. You have the advantage in that you are aware of how easy it is to be led astray out there - even for good kids, and that you have a close relationship with yours. You'll be watching and ready to move in if things don't look right, and I'm betting they'll make it thru the maze of adolescence just fine! LOL at sibling rivalry, I laugh about it with my sisters now, and I laugh at how my two used to carry on. I think it must be part of the package of having brothers and sisters in the house. :-)

Michele R said...

I am glad that this person emailed you to clarify more. I am truly over people blaming the schools. I blame parents if they have no clue about things. So, so many of them need counseling on how to parent.
You have always sounded like a very aware, concerned parent. And I'd be proud too of your 14 yr old and his kindness and awareness of you.

mayberry said...

Big huge gulp. At least you are going into it with your eyes open. I sure hope that counts for something!

Jomama said...

I hear you--worried over here too with my oldest ready for middle school next year, and too old for after-school care.

I hung with the nerd/geek crowd, so drugs weren't an issue for us, but depression, emotional drama, and even threats of suicide were.

My approach has been to nurture the networks of friends he hangs with, and get to know the other parents. It won't protect them completely, I know, but I only hope for an early warning of something wrong, rather than too late.

That Uncomfortable Itch said...

It's a daily gulp for sure. The closeness thing and the open and honest thing are both great. Sometimes the honesty is difficult because it can be way too honest, but at least you know what's up. Good thing you aren't going into it with your eyes closed. :)

Tara R. said...

I don't believe it's a given that teens go all wonky when they reach high school. Mine were a little moody, but they were good kids going in, and good kids coming out.

Eldest has a powerful support system, he will be one of the good kids.


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