Having a teenager means thinking — a lot — about what “letting go” means. It is about letting go of control over her person — when she no longer needs you to clean her up, feed her, carry her around, when she does not need you to buy her clothes and shoes, when she goes to get her own haircuts, when she has her own ideas (no matter how erroneous) of what to put inside her body . . . . The letting go, one body part at a time, has been ongoing for a while, but has become so much more visible of late as I realize how tired I am of doing certain things. I am tired of hearing about her foot problems, so I have decided that what she chooses for footwear — aside from running shoes, which we agreed to subsidize until she is 18 — is no longer my financial responsibility And I really wish she would go ahead and shave her head, as she has been “threatening” to do for a couple of years now. I would love to have clear drains and clean carpets!
The biggest body part, and obviously the one I am most ill-equipped to let go of, is of course the brain. It is my business in some ways — I mean, we have set up a very healthy college fund for her — but in the most real sense, her brain is none of my business. A few months ago I had the minor epiphany that her failures and accomplishments are hers, and how she defines “education” is also hers. Last night we had the latest round in the “what is education” argument: the Teenager’s AP Human Geography teacher wants her to take the AP exam because she is convinced that the Teenager will score a 5. Do I think the teacher has the Teenager’s best interest at heart? That is debatable. The whole AP industry is about making money, and the schools and teachers collude with the testing service because success on paper translates to more education dollars for their schools and programs. Truly top tier colleges are not going to give a damn that an applicant got a 4 or 5 in AP Human Geography, while the schools that may give brownie points would admit the Teenager anyway. So . . . . I backed out of the whole argument and let DH decide, and being a Dad, he gave in and wrote the check for $89 (!) for what we both agree is actually a rather useless test. I think the Teenager will in fact do well on the exam, but as with her grades, I hope she does not take the result (whether “good” or “bad”) to heart and assign it greater meaning than it merits.
In the meantime, the lines of the day:
Me: Have you fed the dog?
TT: No; I am having issues with her.
Me: I have issues with you, but I always feed you anyway!