Teen Talk Columnist, PNJ
Today is the last day of high school for The Edge (of 17.)
On that fateful day over two years ago when we made the decision to withdraw her from the public high school, I had no idea where we would wind up. I could not, in good conscience, continue to send her to a school that was on lockdown every other day due to a bomb threat or rumors of violence. I did not care for the crowd she was associating with outside of the scope of my control. I was concerned that her education was suffering with all of the distractions. It was not an easy decision, and I've fretted so many times over the past two years whether it was the right one. Parenting can be a real "beach" some days - you just have to jump in and see where the wave washes out!
People kept asking me, "Well, what is your plan?" The truth is, I had no plan. I was making it up as I went along. I was not such a doof that I had not explored our options. I knew that we could pursue dual enrollment, return to public school for the last semester of her senior year, find an accredited course online that would offer a diploma. I discussed it at length with the Edge and she actually chose to attend Adult High.
She had to convince me that it was a good choice. While I realized that she should have some say in the matter, I was plagued with the idea that her classes would be filled with a bunch of n'er do wells. What we discovered was that the program encouraged students to take charge of their educations - the Adult High students were there because they wanted to be there. She took charge, plotted her course, and is graduating with the Class of 2010. Hey, wait a minute, that WAS the plan all along. . .
People might think I am crazy for not having a plan, but I've learned after many years that those "plans" have a way of changing. It works well for me to be able to think on my feet, to be prepared for a variety of options rather than believing that there is only one way to do things. It's not that I don't worry, because I do (I'm a pro!)
Ah, maybe "worry" is the wrong word. I prefer to "analyze" and "explore my options." Then, when it comes time to make a call, I'm ready because I have wor-, I mean analyzed myself to pieces over it.
The advice I would offer to another parent is to trust your instincts. Do what you think is right. . .and if it turns out to be wrong, well, find a way to make it right. It's okay to take life as it comes along, because it's going to come along whether you worry about it or not. There is not a single "right" way to do things.
There must be, oh, I don't know. . . fifty ways to raise your children. . .get on the bus, Gus!