Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Best Kept Secret – Middle College High Schools

“The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in  the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed in you.” – Anonymous

apple for the teacherWe recently attended a presentation by the school district on middle college, a topic I think important enough to share with parents of teens.

A middle college high school (or MCHS) is a secondary high school located on a community college campus.

These schools are the greatest thing going, developed in part thanks to funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (always did LOVE Windows.) Their primary mission is to prepare kids for college, beginning as early as the ninth grade – at no cost to parents!

Students attend tuition-free college courses while simultaneously completing their high school credits, with full access to all facilities on the college campus.

A student entering middle college high school in the 9th grade can graduate from high school with over 30 completed college units, walking off into their bright, shiny future with  a diploma and well on their way to a college degree. Talk about getting a head start!

college gradwsAnd did I mention tuition-free classes?

MOM LIKE! MOM LIKE!

Middle college high schools have relatively low enrollment numbers, usually less than 100 per grade level. This creates a smaller student body and a more focused, nurturing academic environment – one that may not be as readily found on a high school campus.

Once an application is submitted to the MCHS, an assessment is conducted for each applicant to determine college-readiness. GPA, focus, enthusiasm and academic commitment are all taken into consideration.

My 15-year old recently applied to an MCHS in our area. His 4.2 GPA (yep, really), among other notable characteristics, qualifies him for admission. This past weekend, we attended his initial interview with the middle college staff.

I will write about his interview in my next post. It was really quite something…

For more information on middle college high schools in your area, click on the link below:

http://www.mcnc.us/our-schools/


Coffee

When Did They?

Last night, my 18-year-old daughter walked into my room wearing a backless, red velvet evening gown. She stood in front of the cherry wood swivel mirror, admiring and critiquing the color and style, idly tugging at the material in an attempt to make it fit better. She walked back and forth, twirled, stood with her back to the mirror,  and asked what I thought.

What I thought was, “Oh my God, she’s a woman.”

Of course I already knew this, but this was one of those pivotal moments where it hit me with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

One of the things I’ve recognized about being a parent is that you see the passage of time through your children. As Reb Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, “I don’t remember growing older, when did they?”

The thing that made this moment even more powerful was the fact that the dress she wore belongs to me.  There she was, beautiful, with curves and everything, wearing one of the sexiest gowns I own.

Isn’t having a grown-up daughter something that only happens to other people?

Many of my recent posts have been related to feelings of sadness and transition, in part because my children are now young adults and my role as Mom has all but disappeared. But with every hurdle cleared, I’m closer to letting go, and more proud than nostalgic. I’m seeing clearly how well I’ve done as a parent, because the reality is, I’ve raised two exceptional human beings.

And perhaps as importantly, I appreciate the freedom that accompanies having children who cook their own food, do their own homework, and drive themselves to school.

Actually, on most days, life’s pretty bitchin’.

So, this Saturday night, my daughter will attend her Senior Prom, wearing my velvet dress, inking a significant page in her personal history. 

As I watched her glide around the room, marveling at her youthful beauty, I envisioned the day when she’ll longingly think back on this prom weekend as she watches her daughter model her sexiest gown.

Even though that day will be years from now, it’ll be here as fast as you can sing Sunrise, Sunset.


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On Most Days

Cool Trees

“I’ve been a little out of sorts lately. I had some sorts, but then I ran out.” –Friend and author – John Shore

I’m in the middle of a life transition. Uncertainty, nostalgia, fear of the unknown – they’re all here.

Big changes are seriously messing with my head. There are so many things in flux that gaining solid footing has been about as easy as eating a single Lays potato chip.

My  emotions are teeter-tottering all over the place, mostly because of my changing Mom role and my omnipresent anxiety about how the hell we’re going to keep the lights lit in these uncertain economic times.

In the summer of 2009, my 23-year, six-figured technical job was outsourced to India. Just like *that*, my established, well-respected career ceased to exist.

Tough luck, huh?

Yeah. But after the initial shock (and tears) subsided, I realized that I’d been given a “do over.” Now, I had a brilliant opportunity to ask myself honestly, “What do I want to do? What am I passionate about? What am I doing when I feel really happy?”

Joseph Campbell describes this process as following your bliss. The idea has always resonated with me, but life had never thrown quite the right “curve ball” to motivate me into action.

…until August of 2009. Since then, I’ve been watching a high-and-insider rocket towards me at breakneck speed. As thrilling as the process can be, reinventing myself is taking patience and a lot of faith that I’ll somehow land on my feet.

I’m working to put Campbell’s idea into action, and find that getting in touch with what I love to do is helping me set some real goals for myself. Having a plan has gone a long way towards creating my map for personal success.

So, the Plan. The first thing I did was take stock.

An exercise I use to help gain perspective and self-confidence is to list some of the personal hurdles I’ve already cleared.

I would highly recommend everybody write up a list like this. I’ve found it helps to see how strong you really are. You may find you’re holding your head a little higher and thinking you’re a pretty impressive human after all, just like I did:

1) 1985- Left my hometown in N. California to start a new life 400 miles away 2) 1986 – Eloped to Hawaii, 3) 1994 – Endured a miscarriage, 4) 1992 – Bought a house, relocated to a new community, 5) 1993/1995 – Gave birth to two healthy children, 6) 1986 – 2004 – Underwent multiple surgeries, 7) 1998-1999, Survived the deaths of three of my closest friends, 7a) 2002-2003 – Went through a really tough divorce, 9) 2005 – Remarried (my soul mate)  10) 2009 – Lost my job of 23 years, 11) 2008 – Helped my teenage daughter through a painful depression and drug rehabilitation, 12) 2011 – present – Approaching empty nest, reinventing myself…and still smiling.

Wow, look what I did. Yay me!

Then, I got into motion.

When I feel I’ve lost my way, or am insecure about how things will turn out, I force myself to do anything – even the smallest task – related to my goals. It’s my experience that taking the tiniest step in the direction of my dreams will open unseen doors.

When I followed my bliss, I discovered a passion for history, and a newfound love for creating websites. 

To indulge these interests (and possibly grow them into paying careers,) I began volunteering as project manager and website designer for a historical society.

Additionally, I set two goals. The first was to work more closely with my husband as we pursue our mutual love of history. By helping edit and market his books, promote his lectures and book signings, and help conduct his tours and classes, I’m building a whole new career identity for myself.

And because I set this goal, we were recently able to co-create and host our own silent film festival. How cool is that?

My second goal was to bring in some dough by helping new business owners design and create their first websites. In a short period, I’ve attracted an impressive list of clients, who, so far at least, seem to really like my work!

See what can happen when you move in the direction of your dreams?

I taught myself how to knit hats and scarves, and read over 100 novels–two pursuits I would otherwise have never had the time for.

I’ve also started two blogs – this one (teenparentcafe) and a recipe/cooking blog called Aunt Kim’s Kitchen. I’m becoming re-acquainted with my “inner writer,” who I haven’t heard from in years (who’d have thought that following my bliss would lead me to wordpress.com?)

So, ultimately, losing my job has given me a new circle of friends, a chance to pursue more satisfying careers, and time well-spent doing things I really love to do.

Though I still have my anxieties, on most days, I’m optimistic. I haven’t replaced the income from my technology job yet, but I’m working on it – and having a pretty good time doing it.

Since I’m still in the midst of transition, the final chapter (or blog post) on this topic has yet to be written. Check back to this URL for further updates.

Looky there! I just got some of my “sorts” back.

Free Girl (usage)

Catching Fireflies

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER…

I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment, realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorry’s”
. . . but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . look at it and really see it . . . and never give it back.”

–Erma Bombeck  

 

I’ve shot tons of video of my kids, but I’ve always known I wouldn’t watch them.  Because theoretically, the people on the screen no longer exist, and that makes me really sad.

Earlier tonight, my 15 1/2 year old played an old video of himself and his sister as little towheads, catching lightning bugs with their cousins at their grandparents’ house.

God, they were beautiful.

Their excitement was so genuine it brought tears to my eyes. They were completely immersed in the moment.

I listened to the younger version of myself talking to them, giggling when they squealed, and laughing as they screamed with delight when Mom caught a firefly, too.

As I watched, I found myself wondering if, on that beautiful Midwest summer night, I had appreciated the magic I witnessed. Did I realize how lucky I was to be able to pick up those beautiful babies, kiss those sweet cheeks and swing them around until they begged me to stop?

I cherish my children at every age, but I deeply miss when they were small. I’ve always known how fast they would grow, and made the effort to BE PRESENT at every moment. I’m grateful that I did, because the only emotion I hate more than nostalgia is regret.

I move through the sadness by discovering what I love outside of motherhood, what I’m passionate about, and what I want to accomplish in the second half of my life. I’m also grateful to bear witness to the emergence of two talented, compassionate, amazing young adults. There is Life After Mommy.

Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll write about how often my now-teenage children have me reaching for my gi-normous bottle of Advil.

But tonight, I think I’ll cry and catch fireflies. 


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