Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Push to Finish Strong - One Year Later

A year ago today, I posted this blog on our kids push towards the end of their sophomore years.  Here we are, a year later, and they are back at it.  Here we are, ending their junior years.  Time seems to fly by faster and faster as our boys get older.

Shawn has just eleven classroom sessions left this second semester of his junior year.  A drawing final (which is very cool, and very him), a painting final (also cool, and an image of something he truly loves), a fifteen page art history final and subsequent exam, and a biology final, plus Springfest and multiple fraternity meetings, stand in his way of fourteen weeks of summer freedom.  He'll start work a few days after he gets home, and spend his free time weightlifting, hanging out, and hopefully sketching on a new art tablet he wants to buy.  

Ryan has a little more time to deal with his end of year prep.  An AP Calc exam, an ACT exam that he's retaking right after the end of the school year to push his score a little higher, a football combine, a college visit, several track meets and various assignments and exams stand between him and his summer....one of which where he will work a few hours a week, lift a couple of hours a day, and get ready for his senior year of school and what will be his last year of high school football.

Over the summer as a family, we'll try to spend some downtime away from the city.  As parents, the college discussions will take the forefront and college visits will be planned.  We'll spend many, many hours trying to come up with a game plan and give our youngest the same opportunities our oldest received. 

The last year has had ups and downs, but I couldn't be more proud of who our boys have become.  Knowing that we have one son that is leading in towards his final push to finish his college degree, and one that is starting to plan his college experience, is all the reason to spend downtime with our kids.  As they get older, I know they will want to spend less and less time with us, so I will try to soak up as much time now as they will allow.

There is no manual when it comes to raising kids.  We struggled just like other families, but we thrived as well.  We have healthy, well adjusted, strong willed children.  They are smart, and talented and know what needs to be done to succeed.  Both Doug and I smash heads with our kids when it comes to what we believe is right and what they think they know.   Some day they'll realize that they should have listened to the two people in their lives that know them best.  The two people that want them to succeed in everything they do.

The Push to Finish Strong - Originally posted 4/28/2014
It's the push.  The push for my kids to finish out their respective sophomore years strong.  With a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school, their lives couldn't be more different or more similar.  One is focusing on trying to pick out the right classes in the right order so he can move on with his life, while balancing a full class schedule, clinical education sessions, art projects, football practice, weightlifting practice and his fraternity.  The other is focusing on his current classes, which are just a small stepping stone to the next level, while balancing track season, weightlifting, deciding whether or not to try out for baseball, anticipation of a job, football camps, a drivers license and next football season. Add to that encouragement from mom and dad to start thinking about that next level and the possibility of playing college football and picking that right college.

When I think back to my sophomore years in high school and college, they were definitely laid back.  At least in my eyes. I knew that I wanted to go into accounting (which never happened) and was anticipating getting my drivers license while balancing classes and track schedule.  My sophomore year of college was much different.  I came home after a year at UWW.  It just wasn't for me.  I went to MATC for a year, lived at home and worked a 30 hour a week job...in accounting no less.  My parents didn't push me.  I was the fifth of five kids and by the time I graduated high school I knew I wanted to go to school, but I wasn't quite sure why.  When I think back, I should have finished what I started when it was right in front of me.  It took me 17 years to finish college.

The amount of stress that children, both young and adult, is overwhelming.  Sure, they have downtime.  The play video games, they hang out with friends, but the pressure to succeed is always there.  At least in my kids minds.  My husband and I pressure, I mean encourage, our kids to succeed.  There is no reason why they shouldn't succeed with the tools they have been given.   I saw Pinterest post on Facebook tonight that said "In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college."  Where have we gone wrong?  Have our standards of education been simplified over time?  Are we now ok with barely passing to get through life?

I hope that the lessons I've taught, and my husband supported and taught on his own, are taken to heart by our kids.  Like most parents, there are days that my kids think we are the enemy.  We push them to succeed... but we encourage their failures.  Not on purpose, but we know that they only way they will learn is by trial and error.  I truly believe that they know that we do this out of love.  When they have children of their own, I hope the lessons we've taught are morphed into lessons of their own.

We've built a solid foundation for our kids to grow and thrive.  It hasn't been all lollipops and butterflies.  There have been trials and sacrifices. But I know for certain, they know we love them, unconditionally.  And we can't wait to see them finish out their respective educations and go on to great things.

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