I’m about to opine on a race in which I have no horse – college applications. My oldest is four years out, so I really have no experience. But as an aunt, a very loving aunt at that, maybe I have a toe in the race. I get the luxury of watching my brother pave the way via his borderline super-son, Golden Child (because he was the first of 15 grandchild on my side)  My brother might have the golden kid, but we’ve got Platinum Boy – yes that would be F.H.A. (our little Future Hoarder of America … everything in our family is a competition :)

Since I started a few years later than my friends on the marriage and baby road, I have several close compadres venturing down the road of the college apps. One thing that hits me about the process keeps hitting me about my own process – the unbelievable compelling need to step in and fix or even do.
Just this weekend I ran into a friend whose very talented, accomplished, capable son is applying to schools.

“Where’s he looking?” I ask.

“Oh A&M, UT and a couple others out of state.”

“How’s the application process going?”

“Really great. I’m submitting two for him tomorrow. And we just finished the essays.”

I didn’t’ say anything, but I almost gagged on two words in those sentences, “I” and “we”.  At times I wish I had never started considering this youth entitlement thing in society … and in my home. In some ways I liked it better before I realized my attempts to rescue/fix/help/save weren’t really sending the message I intend.

No need to point out that this family is terrific. They are great parents who, in the name of love, are helping their child complete what they consider one of the more important processes in their life. But, as with all of this “help”, that annoying little message keeps presenting it’s nasty face. The one that never says, but loudly implies, “I’ll help because I can do it better than you.” … or, “I’ll help because you can’t do it.”

It’s so hard to let my kids handle their business, especially when 1) I’m fairly certain I can do it better, 2) I know other parents are stepping in for their kids, 3) I equate helping them with loving them, and 4) I’m just not sure my kid will step up to the plate and actually get it done. To the latter, I need to genuinely let my brood swim floatee-free much earlier than senior year applications so I know they can do it…. and so THEY know they can do it.

Ughhh… Why is it soooo hard to lean into solo-flight opportunities?! I may not have college staring me in the face, but I feel like this hits me every day.

I struggle with my competitive side that wants my kid to be the top student, especially knowing that other parents are correcting their children’s homework before they turn it in the next day, . (uhhh… around here, though, there ain’t no checking homework. Have I admitted to my induction into the Forgetter’s Hall of Fame. Oh, yes. Forgetting not only every event never noted on my calendar, but also all math, English and most any other subject learned, I’m fairly certain my kids don’t want my help on their homework). So, when someone in my crew brings home a C, at least I know its their C (or A – think positively).

I struggle each time a get an email informing me a new grade has been posted on Teen Take-Out’s school site. Why do I have to look?! Why can’t he just be responsible? Come on… he’s 14 years old! On top of that, he really does a great job. He’s more than capable. Then, of course, I feel guilty knowing every other parent is on top of this stuff.

I struggle with parent/teacher meetings. I’m happy to meet if there’s a problem, but why do they want to meet with to talk about expectations, upcoming projects, etc.? 9 times out of 10 I have no idea what my kid is doing. I trust the teachers. And I trust my kids. … Then I feel guilty because maybe I should know and be a bit more on top of things. These feelings are quickly chased by insecurity notions as I imagine my kids running from behind, desperately trying to catch up. (This, of course is absurd.. but I’m just telling it like it is.)

Alright, enough with the back and forth. The point is… the less I can do for them, the better. The more they do for themselves, the stronger their legs are when they need or want to run. My job? Do my best to cut down on my big old enabling habits and stick to empowering…. i.e. loving them enough to make them work. 

No need to mention that I ran school TTO’s project that inadvertently fell into the backseat as he raced out of the car this morning (ignoring my supposedly annoying “I love you”s and “have a great day”s). That’s not enabling… is it?! Naaahh… that’s giving a hand up to my kid who worked hard on his presentation. He knows I’m there for him.

Thanks for walking the road with me. I sure need the help J


Heard on the street…

MOAT friend, Nancy, has been getting a kick out of sharing with her kids exactly what she has been purchasing with the dollars confiscated from their jars for jobs un-done. Treat for the day? A refreshing glass of tea from City Café to Go. … þ Like It!

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