The school year is almost over, and summer is almost here. It's the time of year when teachers and parents both heave great big emotional sighs... the teachers in relief and the parents in apprehension.
I am thankful. Summer cannot get here fast enough for me, and it's not just because of our major winter adventures into severe weather. Because school will be out.
My lovely daughter will be free from the shackles of public school for two solid months.
You see this is her first year in the public school system, and having more than a healthy dose of her mother's competitive spirit, she's been overly preoccupied with straight As and perfect attendance. She has invested most of her young exuberant energy into tests and quizzes and projects and papers and grades. She's got the goal of college firmly centered in her focus for the future. For the past 10 months, large portions of her time and attention have been spent on the pursuits her teachers and guidance counselors have set as her priorities.
But this summer she will be free, free to lounge in the warm sunshine and lazily read a book just because she wants to and not because it's included on any class syllabus. She can sleep late and doodle in her journal and listen to horrible teen music while she stares at the ceiling. She can waste her time learning some new chords on the guitar that she got for Christmas or she can crochet just because she wants to. Whatever the heck strikes her fancy.
And I hope she jumps head-first into the glory that is life unscripted, unmeasured, and unqualified. Because the most important lessons in life can't be taught in a classroom, they can't be packaged in tidy little research papers, and they can't be measured by government standardized tests. They happen while we are busy living life.
So I hope she makes the best of her fabulous summer. And next year, I'll urge her to drop her perfect attendance goals. Maybe we'll bust her out for family camping trips or visits with her grandparents or who knows what. But there is more to life than grades and quizzes and teacher-pleasing. I don't want her to forget it. I want her to be able to set her own goals and measure progress by her own standards, not what will look best on her college applications. I don't want any of my children to order their lives around the priorities of another.
They have to live with themselves. They should set their own priorities.