Failure

For much of my life I was pretty sure I was faking “it” — whatever “it” was.

Piano?  I would win competitions big and small, teachers (and judges) would ask me how many hours I practiced, and I would feel obligated to lie and  give them many more hours than I was putting in.  Suppose I really had practiced that many hours?  I could improve the mechanics, but I knew I would never have the true talent.

In high school I met HS Boyfriend and his best friend; they were two of the smartest people I have ever known, and I had them convinced that intellectually I was in their league.  I was not.  This is not self-deprecation, it is the truth.  I was really good at memorizing: if I could read it, I can remember it.  My ability to memorize pretty much anything got me through college and medical school — if nothing else, I had the mechanics of learning down.

Tonight, The Teenager mentioned the possibility of going to see the movie Lincoln — and the conversation deteriorated from there:

“Who was Lincoln?”

“A president.”

“Which century?”

After a long pause . . . .

“1500s.”

Wow.

The Teenager is in 10th grade, she has read about the Civil War in history texts as well as in fictional works.  We have discussed slavery, Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and yes, Abraham Lincoln — we have done our best to supplement the meager history offerings of the public school system, and clearly someone has failed.  I would love to blame “the school,” but that would be wrong.  The Teenager has failed, and it is not the school’s fault, nor is it our fault.  It is her fault, and her failure.

Which brings me to “faking it.”  She does her homework religiously, she attends classes, she takes her tests.  She is a straight A student.  I don’t know if she really believes she is a good student — I suppose it depends on what she believes are her goals and responsibilities, and how she defines “education.”  My daughter has an academic facade that can bear no scrutiny.

When is a child’s failure no longer the parent’s failure?  DH thinks he needs to keep plowing ahead until she is eighteen.  I do believe The Teenager will be reading parts of Battle Cry of Freedom over Christmas break.  Bless his heart, he was always an optimist.

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