Do you have a teenager like this?
My daughter is 14 year old freshman in high school. Mostly Often she’s delightful with a quick wit. Also, often, she’s full of sass, entitlement, instant gratification, sass, cranky, combative…did I mention sass?...and all that goes with stereotypical teenagedom.
For much of her life she was a good student, until the last year. In 8th grade it all fell apart. Since starting high school her anxiety about being at school has ramped up and is now rocketing toward Jupiter. She claims she’s not being bullied and that no one at school is bothering her. I’m not so sure.
She hates being at school so much that she makes herself sick. She texts me constantly to pick her up, claiming she doesn’t feel well. During our Christmas break from school she was mostly delightful (remember, there is still the teen angst she feels is part of her genetic structure), but then the weekend before school was set to start she began a no holds barred campaign to enter into an independent study program through our school district. She’s actually been asking for independent study since Aug, when school started. Yup, she hates it that much.
Also, since August, she’s no longer participating in sports since she stopped doing Cheer. She’s gaining weight, her skin is suffering and she’s working on becoming a hermit…so, clearly…something is going on. But, when asked, it is just, “I hate school, I hate being there, I just hate everything about it.”
You’d think that I’d jump immediately to homeschool her, wouldn’t you? Based on all this…
But, I hesitate. Not because I don’t want to do what is right for her, but because I’m not sure WHAT is right.
Teenagers are manipulative; I know…I was one. She’s frequently, in the past, developed issues after learning her friends had ‘issues’. For example, a friend shows up to cheer practice with a brace on her knee…suddenly my daughter needs one because her knee hurts, something she NEVER mentioned before that day. A friend has ADHD, Kat thinks she has it. A friend suffered some severe anxiety issues and needed to be put on independent study…guess who started using those same words and having the same issues? We’ve talked about the last friend and Kat admitted that she is manipulating her family to get what she wants. My daughter thinks her friend has real anxiety issues, but told me that she uses it to her advantage, often playing up her distress.
There is a part of me that is skeptical of my daughters ‘issues’. I am not proud of it, believe me. There is a bigger part of me that feels I need to take steps to dig deeper and figure out what is really going on. Before you start thinking I’m a terrible parent (which, may not be far off base), I did call our health provider to schedule an appointment with a teen psychologist. I have called the school and left a message for her advisor AND the school nurse. I’m taking my daughters words to heart, I’m taking her seriously…but I’m not without reservations. I’m not beyond believing she wants to take the easy way out, which is her typical MODUS OPERENDI. And, then again, perhaps it is a combination. Fuck, this parenting thing sucks sometimes! I don’t want to be a skeptic, but I don’t think just believing outright is good either. Fuck…fuck…fuck. What is the right thing to do?
What I’m searching for here is anyone who has walked in my shoes. I have several friends who’s children suffered through a really tough freshman year and come out just fine in sophomore and junior year. But they weren’t bombarded by pleas for home study.
Take a moment to read her list of reasons why she should be in independent study – tell me what you think, your own experiences and advice for navigating these next few years. I don’t want to do what is easy or what will get her off my back, I want to do what is best for her. I’m not convinced being in a classroom is the only way to go, so I am not a traditionalist in that sense. It wouldn’t be right to try and raise kids to think free and independently, but then tell them there is only one way to learn…that’s just wrong. But, also? I would suck at homeschooling, which is why I never considered it to begin with. Independent study, through a school district, may work differently…I haven’t researched it yet, so I have no idea. I worry that I am not enough to make sure she learns everything she needs.
Anyway, here’s her list…
Reasons Why I need Independent Study:
1. I will have the freedom to explore the material my own way.
2. The classes move either too slow or too fast making it more difficult and stressful for me.
3. I won’t have to wake up at ungodly hours to go to a place I hate and be tired and cranky the rest of the day and unable to focus.
4. People in class distract me, no matter what I do to prevent it, and the annoying kids distract the teacher which slows down the class and we aren’t able to cover everything we are supposed to.
5. I will be able to listen to music while I study, which helps me focus better
6. If I am having trouble on a subject, I can take a break and let my brain rest, and I can get fresh air which I cannot do in school.
7. I won’t feel claustrophobic and stuffy at home because I won’t be in a crowded classroom.
8. At home I won’t be around bad people and I won’t be influenced to do bad things.
9. At school there is a chance someone could do a shooting spree or bomb threat and I could die.
10. The school is disgustingly dirty and there are cockroaches and ants in almost every classroom as well as rats in the cafeteria and running around the campus and locker rooms.
11. I won’t be around sick people every day, which is probably the reason I have been sick 4 times in the past 4 months.
12. I can have proper meals and eat the amount I am supposed to every day and I can drink enough water to hydrate my body and not have to sit on the ground for lunch every day.
13. I won’t be around mean people who judge me for no reason and I can stop feeling bad about myself which school has caused.
14. I won’t be around people creating drama which can make me feel left out and eve more stressed.
15. I won’t wake up every day hating my life like I already do.
16. I will have some more time to practice guitar and singing in order to make my dreams come true.
17. I work better independently which everyone already knows.
18. I won’t have to change in front of people every day and feel uncomfortable like I already do.
19. I won’t have to bug you anymore about it.
20. I won’t get a stomach ache and headache like I do every day once I get to school because I don’t feel comfortable there and I REALLY hate to being there.
21. I won’t get random anxiety attacks like I get in class.
22. I will have enough energy to go to the hill and run because I won’t be worn out from school.
You see? There are some things on this list that make me wonder who is bothering her, because clearly there may be peer issues that she isn’t recognizing. But, I also know my daughter very well and she is the kind of kid that will take a mile if given an inch. If we do independent study, I can foresee her asking to move to Los Angeles next so she can better pursue her dreams of stardom. Or New York. Or, she’ll harass me to study abroad, in England, where her favorite boy band lives.
Well? Have you been here, drowning in this parenting dilemma? Please…share, I’ll be right here waiting to learn from y’all. HURRY!
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