Thursday, June 14, 2007

Getting Back to Normal... Mostly

I thought life would resume its "normal" pace after DD#2's graduation, DS#2's Eagle Project and Confirmation celebration.


The Monday after graduation, DD#2 and I were in the Counselor's office at her new high school, selecting classes. Freshmen don't get many choices: P.E., English I, Algebra I, and World History are assigned. Language is expected, with a choice of Spanish, French, or Latin. (After three years of taking Spanish in Middle School, plus the four years of introductory Spanish in grammar school, DD#2 is taking Latin.) She knew she was going to take Oral Interpretation, the first year of Public Speaking because that's how she qualified for the necessary interdistrict transfer.

"Do you want to take a seventh period or a study hall?" the Counselor asked.

This was DD#2's chance to do something fun; explore her talents a little bit. But making decisions are not her strength, especially on the spur-of-the-moment. She knew that she would be spending quite a bit of time at the library, waiting for Hubs or I to pick her up, so she was pretty sure that she didn't want to spend more time there. But what to take?

We looked over the electives. "She's interested in Architecture. What do you recommend?" I asked.

The Counselor recommended Engineering Drawing. It's a prerequisite to CAD and, because it's a computer-based program available only at the school site, there is very little homework.

"Here's your chance to check it out," I said. On the way home, I elaborated. "Think of high school as your opportunity to try out your interests, to find out what you like to do and what you're good at."

She thought about that for a moment.

"Okay. I want to try crew."

"If I can figure out a way to get you there," I said. (If my family has a sport, it would have to be crew. I'm not sure why, but we seem to have some talent for sitting in a boat, pulling long oars. Could be we're all stubborn, which is a useful trait to have.)

After we were done, the Counselor and I spoke about DS#2 and his difficulties with writing. Language Arts are not his strong suite by any means and the fact that he's doing as well as he is demonstrates his ability to compensate, his willingness to work hard, and his innate intelligence. I told the Counselor I'm concerned about next year: DS#2 is facing the PSAT, the SAT, English III, and U.S. History, which all have strong writing components. In fact, it was the writing portion of the California State High School Exit Exam that I thought he might not pass. He did, although his scores showed exactly where his weaknesses are. So we're going to monitor his progress and get him help early if he needs it.

When I spoke to Hubs about my conversation, he was impressed. "This is what counseling is supposed to be!" Unfortunately, that wasn't our experience in our home school district.

The rest of the week was devoted to DS#2's finals, end of the year celebrations for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, work (of course!), and a picnic in Sonoma celebrating the Bear Flag Republic. Oh, and DS#2 found out that the Eagle Project he thought was completed, wasn't. He spent the weekend trying to find out what exactly the ranger wanted him to do, where the materials were going to come from, and rounding up volunteers to help.

The good news is he was able to get a crew together for this afternoon and the ranger signed off that the project was complete. What's left now is the paperwork, the letters of recommendation, and one final merit badge that's almost complete.

His speech teacher agreed to give him a recommendation, so, on the last day of school, DS#2 dropped off the letter and the stamped, addressed envelope. When he returned to the car, he was shaking his head.

"I thought she hated me," he said. "But she told me how much I'd improved and how glad she was to have me in her class. I kind of feel bad now that I'm not taking Speech next year!"

"She'll have your sister," I commented.

"And DD#2 is going to hate her," he replied. He's probably right. DD#2 is going to have to do things the way the teacher wants them done and when the teacher wants them done. This teacher does not accept late work or excuses. But, better DD#2 learn that now rather than later.

Next week Hubs and DS#2 head off with the troop for a week of Boy Scout camp. When he comes back, DS#2 has summer school. DD#2 and I head off for Japan; Hubs and DS#2 head out a few days later. When we come back, DS#1 will be moving down to San Luis Obispo and his new life at Cal Poly. DS#2 and DD#2 will get their classes and DD#2 will go through orientation. The Scout meetings will start up again along with homework and I'll be back to regular hours at work.

No wonder summer seems so short!