Posts Tagged ‘school’

I am working diligently with my 17 yr old son to get him in college.  Each day I learn something new and exciting.  A dorm, a scholarship, a better life for him forever.  I keep joking that it would cost less money if I just bought this boy a house.  But I’m finding that sitting down with him one on one reviewing SAT questions is more satisfying than I could have ever imagined.  I am learning so much about my self through my children.  But the reality is I am so excited for him because this is an opportunity I never had.

I graduated high school in the early 80s in the deep south.  Girls weren’t encouraged to go to college then.  It was still something for boys.  I was a smart kid, certainly smarter than my brother.  Yet I was told, be a beautician because that’s all you will ever be able to do.  After all, you really should marry quickly after high school and raise a family, you’re only young once.  And if you wait too long you’ll be too old and no man will want you.  It was the standard that all girls were told.

I told my mother one time that I wanted to be a lawyer, and my friend, who was with me at the time, was also going to be an attorney.  We were going to open a practice together in Charlotte NC.  She looked at me as if I was the most foolish person she had ever seen and said, “Don’t be ridiculous, you are too stupid to be an attorney.”  I was heart-broken, but since I had heard it so many times before, I believed it.

My friend was angry.  I didn’t know why at the time, of course I do now.  Even now, when we talk about being children, she remembers how crushed I was when my mother called me “stupid”.  She said I needed to try again.  So I went to her in her bedroom and told her we needed to talk.  That I really did want to go to college and I was sure I was smart enough.  I will never forget her patronizing look, the way she refused to even discuss it.  She told me she had money for college, but it was for my brother, that he was the smart one and she didn’t want to waste her money on me when she had a son.

When I finished beauty school I moved out and was an overnight success,.  Not all hairdressers hit the fast track, but I was one of the top 5%.  I was a fast learner and moved into management very quickly.  I was making pretty good money for a 19 yr old.  In fact there are adults today that wish they had my salary from 30 years ago.  I was making 80k a year by then.  Yes, cutting hair.  I was the exception, not the rule.  I decided that it was time to figure out what this college thing was about.  So without telling anyone, because I was sure they would tell me not to go, I went to visit an Ivy league school near where I lived.  I told the lady at the admissions desk that I wanted to go to school there and I could afford it, which in my mind was the only thing standing in my way.  I told her that I made enough money to pay cash for everything and I was a hard worker and I would do well there.  I didn’t know that different schools had different criteria.  Since my family didn’t want to put me through school, no one had ever explained how it worked to me.  She said my GPA was 1/100th of a point too low.  She didn’t tell me that their standards were exceptionally high and there were other schools that would be a better fit.  Nope, just that I wasn’t good enough.  I felt so stupid. But she was a professional, and she had acknowledges that I wasn’t college material.  Maybe I was stupid after all.

Here I was, 19, managing a staff of 24, with a good salary, a brand new car, and apartment, doing pretty ok for myself.  But I had been told I was stupid so many times I believed it.  In fact my brother believed it and told me so on a regular basis, even more than my mother.  Yes, the brother that took 5 years to finish his associates degree because he kept failing classes.  I decided that if I couldn’t go to school, at least I should educate myself, so I didn’t sound stupid and embarrass myself.  I started reading things that I had heard were “classics” or books that people said they read in college.  You know the ones that were somehow expected and “everyone” had read.  I wrote down the names and read them all.  I learned everything I could, just to make myself feel better about who I was.  I even went to college bookstores and bought the used books so I could study.

I eventually dated a man who told me I was smart, and I needed to go to school.  I thought he was just trying to get in my pants.  But he helped me apply to a community college where I did pretty good.  I made A’s, except for English and Sociology… Bs.  Yet again, proof of my “stupidity”.   It took a long time for me to realize that I wasn’t so stupid after all.  My son’s first grade teacher was the one to finally tell me those were pretty exceptional college grades and I should finish school.  I was stunned and it took a long time for me to believe it.  I ended up with a 3.86 GPA in college.  I still do things to prove I’m not stupid, and I suppose I will always have a piece of me that doubts I am good enough.  But I do know that I’m not stupid, even if my family isn’t quite sure.  I still cut hair, I love it.  It’s fun and relaxing and I love to see people excited about an exceptional cut.  I’m really really good at what I do, I always have been.  But I am also building a pretty decent sized company at the same time.  So hair has become a part-time hobby that I get a huge amount of satisfaction from.

My parents and brother have finally realized I’m not so slow after all.  The reality is I did a lot of things to prove myself to them, and even though I don’t need their approval anymore, children crave their parents approval.  And upon occasion, they concede that I am indeed doing pretty ok.  I have worked very hard to make sure my children know I will always be in their corner.  And I’m pretty sure they know.  Five kids down, 2 to go for the college ride.  Some went, some weren’t interested, but it’s always available.  One of my 24 yr old’s is currently working on his masters. I love it!  The 29 yr old finished years ago, the 20 yr old is just starting night school.  They are all different.  But they are all determined to be outstanding.

Now it’s my 17 yr old son’s turn.  We live in a type A personality town, where college education is expected, pretty much a given, not a maybe.  His school counselor told him his grades weren’t good enough and he should join the army.  Seriously?  I was livid.  That woman should be fired.  He may not be headed to an Ivy league school either, but he will go to school.  And he will succeed.

My son wants to be a Cardiologist.  He is a smart kid and makes decent grades.  He never gets in trouble, and he has a good heart.  He also has me for a mother.  I have done my homework by now.  I am not stupid.  And I know what he needs to get to where he wants to be.  There will be no excuses and no people allowed to hold him back.  Anyone that tries will have to go through me.  He will go to college, and he will be exceptional.  We have found several colleges that he is eligible to go to, and even gotten him money to go.  A full ride including his dorm.  We have narrowed it down to 15 four year universities with his major that aren’t in towns that are too cold to live in, we are Southerners you know.  Now he gets to choose which school he likes best and go be the amazing person I know he can be.

I have a daughter, she is younger than him.  I already have a college fund set up in her name.  She will go to college too.  And she will also be exceptional.  My children are smart, all of them.  And no one should ever tell them they can’t go to college.  If they want to go, and they have a dream, together we will find a way to make it happen.  I have told my children that sometimes the answer is no, and that’s ok.  But if you don’t ask, it is ALWAYS no, and that’s not ok.


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College Selection and Financing

Picking the perfect college with your child is an overwhelming task.  Not only do you have to choose a school you like in a location that works with the degree your child wants, but it has to fit your budget.  So here we are with the 17 yr old, making long-term decisions for a child that is hell-bent on becoming a Cardiologist.  He is a good kid, in fact, he is a great kid.  And if any of my kids has the determination to become a doctor combined with the follow through, it’s this one.  But we also have a long family history of military service in our family, and he is pretty sure he can combine the two and come out with his doctorate debt free.

Most of the services have programs for this, and they are very similar, but the devil is in the details.  And this is becoming more and more apparent as we spend more time talking to each branch.  In fact, it has become so overwhelming I am approaching this the same way I approached choosing an adoption agency.  I spreadsheet full of questions with a column for each branch.  The pros and cons for each are pretty amazing.

Each branch has a list of schools for his bachelors degree.  The US Army has more colleges to choose from, yes, it includes the University of Miami, but not as much money.  The Navy seems to pay for more education and is more aware of the daily lives of each student in their program.  The Air Force also has University of Miami on their list (never guess which school mom is dreaming of), but rumors are it is a very long wait to get into their programs.

Cross your fingers as we get started on this crazy journey.  It’s going to be interesting!

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Yesterday I got the panic call from my beautiful daughter-in-law, “Mom, I’m sick.  Can you pick up the baby from daycare?”

This is the time when my mouth and brain are totally coming up with different things.  “Sure honey.”  Alright!  Super-grandma to the rescue!!  Can I pick up the baby?  Are you kidding me… I can’t wait to get my hands on that little ball of love!  “Oh, mom, you’re the best.  Thank you!”  “Any time sweetheart.”  Whatever dear, just hand over the baby and no one gets hurt.

So after a night of homework and giggles and snuggles, all the munchkins were off to bed and I crashed.  The alarm went off and I dragged my tired happy backside out of bed and started waking up little people, teens have alarm clocks, so they are on their own.  Made lunches, plus one for my grandson, and got kids off to school.  On my way to work, I bundled up my little man and took him to preschool only to realize his lunch was still on the island at the house.  Nuts, this preschool doesn’t do lunch on Friday’s and I don’t want my baby to starve.  But all’s not lost, I thought.  Honey works from home.

So I call honey, “Do you see his lunch on the island?”

“Yep, right here.”

“Can you take it to preschool?”

That’s where he started acting like my oldest child.  “Are you kidding me?  I have to work you know.  I have things to do, and you think I should just pop up and run a lunch to preschool?”

Well, that conversation didn’t end well, I mumbled something about going to the grocery store to pick something up for him before I hung up.  Strange, because we are typically a good team.  But by now I wasn’t thinking about the team work we normally perform like a well oiled clock, I was just mad.  I was in the car on the way to the shop yelling at poor innocent passers-by, any perceived slight, “Oh, you must be a man, huh?”,  “Too busy for a few manners today, jerk!” and it went on and on all the way down the road as I worked myself up into a pretty heavy-duty kind of mad.  That’s when the phone rang.  It was honey.  He didn’t apologize but he said he had an opening in his schedule and he’d be more than happy to take lunch to preschool.

So by time I got to the shop, one of the more perceptive ladies asked what was wrong, so I told her I was feeling guilty for being so angry with him over something so ridiculous.  This brilliant woman told me that one of her clients is a counselor, and she told her that men’s brains work like waffles.  They are compartmentalized into squares, and they have to do everything in that square before they can move to the next square.  But things aren’t supposed to spill over from one square to the next or they get frustrated.  But women brains work more like spaghetti.  Things in our world are mixed up and intertwined, and we slide effortlessly from one thing to the next.  That’s why men do not multitask as well as women.  Damn.  I don’t want her to be right, but she is.

Yep, it’s a special combination that very few can figure out how to do gracefully.  So next time he says something stupid, I will just need to slow down and remember the most ridiculous picture I have in my head of a waffle covered in spaghetti.  Cross your fingers.

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