The first week of "high school" started with a scream. Several screams actually. Brighteyes, now 14, has always been told the two skills she needs to master are math and writing. She loves math and hates writing. This hate fused with her early adolescent self-consciousness into a fierce desire to reveal nothing about herself that anyone might for any conceivable reason take a dislike to. Even a simple assignment like picking out one item mentioned in a paragraph from a set of four equally valid possibilities had her storming off to her room and slamming the door.
"I don't get it," I said to the door. "You won't pick one for fear of what it might reveal to someone else about you -- and it's not like anyone outside the family is ever going to see it anyway -- but somehow you manage to pick out your clothes and dress yourself every day."
She opened the door and fixed me with a 14yo version of a withering glare. "Nobody cares about clothes!"
I sent up a silent prayer of thanks that this child had never set foot in junior high.
Of course the real problem wasn't that particular assignment so much as what it represented. Writing assignments were slowly but surely getting longer and more involved, and at 14 she could tell that this was going to end in pieces measured not in words but in pages.
Her father and I assured her that we would always love her no matter what she did or wrote, but she still had to do her work. Late in the second day she eased out and handed me the completed assignment. Since then it's been "let me get this done as quickly as possible so I never have to do it again."
Brighteyes and Sunshine got to pick some courses this year, and one of the ones they chose was gymnastics. They're supposed to start at the end of the month. It's the first time they'll be part of a larger ongoing class, so we'll see what happens.