Have you ever gotten on a haunted house ride at an amusement park? I’m NOT a fan of those rides at all.
You strap yourself into a seat and resign to be stoic no matter what.
Soon, you’re whipping around corners in the pitch dark while things jump out, light up, and drop down in front of you. There’s no time to think. You just duck, scream, or adjust yourself in the seat, trying in vane to prepare yourself for whatever they throw at you next.
Having your firstborn go off to high school is a lot like one of those rides! Lol!
Not the haunted part. But the vane attempts to not let the next thing catch you off guard.
The expectations for high school students are SO very different than those for elementary school students, or even for middle school students. And there is definitely a learning curve for parents.
You can’t send a lunch with them like you’ve done for the past nine years. They can’t keep it with them, and they don’t have time to go to their locker to get it. So you learn how to put money in their food service account and deal with the fact that you have NO idea what they are choosing to eat…
You can’t buy them clothes while they’re at school, in spite of the fact they have no time shop when they’re not. They will wear the only two pairs of shorts that still fit, over and over again. Rather than be caught in something with zippers, Velcro, buttons, pockets in un-cool places or WHATEVER. I learn about a new rule every time I try to buy something on my own. (Who writes these ridiculous rules??)
You can’t include them in a family dinner—even on soccer-practice-only-nights when they get home at 5:30. They’ll have consumed nearly everything good in the fridge AND the pantry before you even realize they’re home. And there’s no use asking them to wait. They will obviously expire if they don’t begin grazing immediately. Incidentally, I’m learning to hide certain things, lol!
Bedtime is no longer a time on the clock. With late night soccer games several times a week, and hours of homework to do after that, it has become whenever. Whenever they finish, if they’re lucky enough to finish. Or whenever they can’t stay awake any longer. Or whenever the snacks run out! I wish somebody would have warned me about this adjustment especially. It just doesn’t feel right to go to bed while one of your children is still plugging away at homework. Yet I do! I’m now saying crazy things like, “Wake me up when you go to bed and let me know if you need me to get you up earlier than 5:30.”
Which leads me to one of the hardest things I’ve had to figure out. Many, including teachers and school officials, would have you believe that parents no longer have a prominent role to play in their high school student’s life. I could share numerous comments made by some that have floored my husband and I. But I won’t.
Admittedly, these students do have to learn to be responsible for their own work, their own choices, their own schedules, and their own food choices, etc.
If the students didn’t need us to pay various fees and provide endless rides and food, it might even seem to them like they didn’t need us.
However, I’m learning as I go, that their needs have simply changed. Become more complex.
For the most part, they don’t need me to tell them what to do and when to do it.
Instead, I’m learning to listen more, talk less, and always offer food. :) Especially at 12 am. Because it seems like that’s when the golden nugget of what’s really on their heart is most likely to fall out of the randomness of our conversations.
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I’ve got so much to learn about being a parent of a high school student. Sometimes I giggle at how quickly I’ve been reduced to a bumbling “newbie” again. How can it be fair that just when I thought I was getting the parenting thing figured out with my neat and tidy family routine, somebody went and changed all the rules and expectations?
Hopefully, the mistakes I make will not be too painful—for student, or parent. If I’m lucky, I’ll get all the kinks worked out by the time my second grader follows in the footsteps of his big brother.
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If you have successfully navigated the years of parenting a high school student, what’s one thing you wish someone would have told you? I would love to hear any advice you can offer those of us just embarking on this scary (and exhausting) ride! :)