place of light

Oh, people.

Been riding the struggle bus lately, as the daughter of a friend says.

The Girl Child, a junior who will be 17 on Sunday, is bound and determined to test the limits of both academic requirements and my sanity. I know I’ve mentioned her woes before. I hoped her habits of procrastination and avoidance were a passing fad; not so much, it seems. She has once again dug herself a giant pit, and rather than dig herself out of it, appears to be adding on rooms to it.

I’ve tried to explain she has no time left for these shenanigans if college is part of her plans, as she claims it is. Then she’ll get back on track briefly, only to derail again in spectacular fashion, as is currently the case. She has 13 days before a paper on Moby Dick is due, a project her class has been working on for a couple months, and on which she NEEDS to do well. Yesterday, she listened through Chapter 7. And took some notes. That is the extent of her work on it so far.

Yes, it is a ridiculously hard book, probably far above her pay grade. But it is still her assignment, no matter how much she hates it. I have tried to encourage and motivate without success. Well-meaning people suggest it is not my problem, that I should let the chips fall where they may. Been there, done that. Those chips are just laying around her in a big ol’ pile in every direction and they don’t prevent new ones from falling.

It’s the time factor that is really making me crazy. Whether or not she goes to college is not what I really worry about – what I worry about is that she will not have the choice because she will not qualify. As I’ve tried to explain to her, and at which point she will usually reply with something like “you went to college, look where it got you”. True, we aren’t raking in the big bucks with fantastic careers, but I wouldn’t have gotten this menial job without a college degree, and without that SHE wouldn’t have this tiny little roof over her head. Our success or lack thereof is due more to lack of ambition, not college degrees. Something perhaps we have passed on to her.

In my secret heart among the fear and worry and love, I wonder where we screwed up. I’m pretty sure it was in 7th grade. Because obviously the parents of successful kids are doing something that we are not. Right? Isn’t that what everyone secretly thinks, when you look at a kid who succeeds or one who fails? Clearly it’s all due to the parents. She’s on spring break, and yesterday I took her phone and the remote controls so that she would have no distractions. She said she had a plan to get through the book by Saturday – listen 4 hours a day. She did 2 hours yesterday, and then went running, which turned into dinner and then a party – despite much arguing against this plan from us. It was a turning point for me. I left her phone and remotes out when I left today. Am I a bad parent for only caring so much? I can’t say – I only know I reached my limit.

Sigh. I don’t say all this to garner sympathy or encouragement. I say it to get it out of my freaking head. It can’t stay there anymore.

Beyond that limit and the line of the dark place I sometimes go, there are bright spots. There has to be, or what else is there. Why stick around and keep doing this?

The biggest shiny thing I have to wrap myself in now is a trip to freaking Paris in less than two months. Going with friends to celebrate a milestone birthday (not mine). It would be even sweeter if The Geek could come, but that is not possible this time – someone has to run the bar.

So when things get sticky or I feel a little lost, I look at my Google Paris map, carefully plotted with sites to see and places to eat and drink. There will be a day trip to London. A trip to a chateau and maybe some bikes. Disneyland, even (don’t hate). There will be wandering and wondering, a food tour, a dinner cruise, wine at a sidewalk cafe. Museums. la Tour Eiffel. There will be long-unused French words. There will be a little bit of magic and light and places unknown that will become known.

And when I return, it will be summer vacation. There will be SAT prep, perhaps a job or volunteer gig, hopefully chores. Maybe a math class for the Boy. Maybe another ride on the struggle bus.

But I’ll always have Paris.


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