Growing up is hard, for anyone. It gets harder when children are not given the structure and support they need to thrive. That I know all to well.
I was thinking about when I was a kid, and like how many other kids, I took the bus home from school in middle school. I came home to an empty house and fended for myself. That was completely normal. By the time I got to high school, about the only homework I was doing was for English, and maybe history, but I pretty much did no school work after getting home from school. I would just spend my time reading book after book. I got away with typically skipping a class a week my freshmen year. It was easy enough, and I just made sure my parents never found out about it.
Besides being a latch key kid, a lot of where I went off course started after my grandmother passed away when I was 13. Most of what I know about life, is from making mistakes, and doing things. I have learned from the stupid stuff I have done. In someways I wish I could have stayed a bit more “innocent”. That is not what life dealt me, which is in part of why I am writing this blog, is to share some of what I have experienced and learn through my life.
College really helped me realize that it is okay to be myself, and that I don’t have to play to an audience in real life. I prefer being in the great outdoors going on adventures, and that dumbfounds some people because of how I carried and presented myself as a teenager. I am not a teenager anymore. I am a woman who has thoughts, feelings, interests, pursuits and a life that is amazing but is rather contrary to the teenage wanting to please presentation of myself.
To parents out there, the biggest thing I can’t stress enough, even if you work, and your partner/spouse (if you have one) works, is to at least check your children’s homework daily (grades 3 and up) and weekly for the younger ones. Know what’s going on with them at school and after they come home. Make sure they are doing their homework. That was one thing I did not have happen in my life, and I barely did my homework in high school. I barely scrapped by, and it should not be that way. When a child is capable of A’s and B’s, C’s and below are not acceptable. A lot of what makes the difference between a C and even a B is whether or not they are regularly in class, and are doing their homework (and at least attempting it).
I cannot express how important it is to love your children, and how important it is to truly listen to them. I don’t care how tired you are from a long day at the office dealing with your annoying coworker. When your child comes running into see you after you get home, yelling “Mommy, Mommy (or Daddy, Daddy), guess what I did today?” and goes into a long winded ramble about seeming nothingness, that is the prime opportunity to be building a stronger bond and relationship with your child. I am not saying that your world needs to revolved around your child or to be a helicopter parent, but be involved with your child’s life. Believe in, and support their dreams. Don’t belittle them or put them down when their dreams change as they get older (and change their major for the second time). Or if they want to talk to you about the person they like at school. They are wanting you to be involved, and if you have laid the ground work, they will come to you, and tell you about the important stuff, especially if you took interest in (and didn’t freak out over) the little stuff. Trust me on this one.
Having been forced to grow up and be mature for my age, has not always been for the best. Now, after college, I feel like I am having to go back over some of the growing up stuff I missed, and figure some things out about myself, who I am, and what direction my life is going in. I have to say that this summer has been amazing though. I have had a few opportunities to just be me, and forget about all the external pressures. I could freely just be me, and love my life and where I am at in life.