Even as a small toddler, our Princess in Waiting had the makings of the young woman she is today. At daycare one afternoon, I was initially horrified to learn that they referred to her as their "quiet, little intellectual" -- when she was only 2!
Now a teenager, my daughter is a beautiful, well-mannered girl with multiple interests, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job. She is very sharp and is therefore enrolled in multiple honors-level classes.
Some may think that this is every parent's dream. But my teenager focuses on school to the point of worry to her parents -- worry to her mother, that is. My husband, ever the academic, is thrilled to have a child follow in his calm, scholarly footsteps.
But as a self-admitted social butterfly, I find myself alternating between being immensely proud of her numerous accomplishments and wanting to push her out the door each weekend: "Go out with your friends!" "What are Jenny and Caitlyn doing tonight?" "Are there any mixers going on this weekend?" "Here. I found this boy's number on the bathroom wall at the coffee shop."
The response often goes something like this: "I've got a lot of homework this weekend, so I don't think I can go to the mixer." "I'd like to go to the party, but since it's a sleepover, and I'm working tomorrow, I think I'd better not."
Sometimes I wonder if the reluctance truly stems from homework concerns or if there is some other apprehension. Possibly, she's aware that there will be kids drinking alcohol at the mixer, and she just doesn't want to deal with that. Or maybe there's some alternative anxiety I don't know about. Perhaps, her friend's parents won't be home the night of the sleepover.
On the other hand, what if she really and truly just wants to stay home -- even if it's just to do homework? Just because that would be totally against my nature, does that mean it's wrong?
While I realize that mine may not be perceived to be a real "problem" compared to most that parents face, I don't want my teen to be so concerned or anxious about school that this time of her life is over before she knows it. High school will fly by; I know it did for me. I was not the student that my daughter is, and I admire that quality in her greatly. But the old adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" hasn't stood the test of centuries without reason. There's merit to that statement, and it still applies today.
My daughter will have the rest of her life to work. (Don't we all know it?) How can I communicate to her that while her studies and grades are of vital importance, it's also crucial to be well-rounded? That she needs to experience high school for the other things that it should be: A time for exploration of who she is and who she's going to become? A time to get her feet wet in social situations while she's still under the protective umbrella of our love?
For now, my plan is to keep letting her feel her own way, while still making the occasional gentle suggestion. As parents, I think that's all we can do. If we push too hard, our kids are going to fly in the opposite direction anyway. So, isn't it best to offer guidance but, whenever possible, let them make their own mistakes (and successes)?