Friday, June 26, 2015

The College Essay: More than Numbers on a Page

This is the college essay I wish he would write.

Dear Colleges,

This is the story the numbers won't tell you. Here is my thesis: I am more than the numbers on the page. 

My GPA, my SAT's my ACT's my class rank, they are only one part of my story. They are also the main part of the story you will use to determine whether I should be part of your school. So I am worried; and I will now tell you what you will not learn from the numbers on the page.

  • You will not see my curiosity, which, when peaked is insatiable.
  • You will not see the passion with which I defend a point, theory or thought.
  • You will not see the epic daily battle waged between my intelligence and my brain chemistry. 
  • You will not see the courage it took to simply get out of bed and go to school when the dark side made it's seductively convincing argument about how much easier it is to give up.
  • You will not see the people who needed me to fit in a box instead of finding ways to unleash who I am.
  • You will not see the teachers who made me feel known, who made me see value in myself.
  • You will not see all the times I got up after I fell.
  • You will not see my sense of humor.
  • You will not see how hard I work, because it doesn't have conventional outcomes.
  • You will not see how brave I was to change schools, not because I had to, but because I no longer wanted to feel ashamed of who I am because I couldn't be who they wanted.
  • You will not see my confidence, because I'm still searching for it.
  • You will not see all of me.
I do not look like the perfect student. I am proud of my strengths and stronger for my flaws. I will continue to make mistakes and I will try to recognize the victories. I am my own worst enemy, but I believe I am worth the effort; I believe I am worth my effort. So, I will continue to become more three dimensional with all the challenges surprises failures and rewards that presents. I will strive to define myself not by numbers and labels but by actions, effort and the courage to show up.

I hope I can do this at your school.

Thank you for your consideration of the possible.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

19 Reasons Why It's All My Fault

Blame is so convenient. It eases any sense of guilt, obliterates the necessity for reparations and absolves all potential sins. Blame insinuates Fault; in fact the two are symbiotic. I consider myself a connoisseur of blame; both in casting it and accepting it. And since becoming a parent, well, let's just say I am the cleaner fish to Blame's Great White Shark. And, since becoming the parent of teenagers, well, there is nothing for which I am not to blame.

So here are the 19 reasons why it's all my fault.

1. I'm a mother

2. I know nothing

3. They know everything

4. I was raised Catholic

5. I do not read thoughts

6. I walked in the room

7. I should have known there would be traffic

8. They're 'just a kid'

9. I push them too hard

10. I don't push them enough

11. I got the wrong toothpaste

12. I should have known they were in a bad mood

13. I didn't sign the permission slip at the bottom of their backpack

14. I should have checked their pockets for pens before doing the laundry

15. I didn't wake them up a fifth time

16. Because the bacon is too crispy

17. Because the bacon is too chewy

18. Because Nike Elite socks aren't the thing anymore

19. Because I have a pulse and I'm not them

It is always someone else's fault because admitting fault is admitting fallibility and fallibility is not an option when you're a teenager. Not because they think they are infallible, it is because they know how fallible they are. And that, my friends, is a fragility most of us still cannot bear. So much feels wrong to them that the relief of placing rather than accepting blame is the very definition of a coping mechanism.

So, I am happy to accept the occasional irrational blame to ease the yuck that is teenager-dom as long as I don't get caught in the Catch 22 of absolving them of accepting responsibility and reconciling with their fallibility.

Ok, now my brain hurts. This is like parental calculus. Know what they sub-textually need and also know what they actually need regardless of popularity. It's like the SAT's all over, eliminate the obvious and then guess. There's always a 50/50 chance I could be right; and there's a 100% chance it will all be my fault.