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How to get your kid into college

I’ve been threatening to do this for months, but I finally wrote a counterpoint piece to all of those “HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR SCHMOOPYKINS GETS INTO HARVARD” articles. It was surprisingly cathartic.

My distress over various “experts” in this area is threefold:

1) Who says you have to go to an Ivy or other generally-rated-as-one-of-the-very-best sorts of colleges in order to succeed? That’s dumb. If that was true, none of the other colleges would exist, or no one who graduates from them would ever make a living. These pieces are rife with a snobbery about education that I find really distasteful.

2) It always seems to assume a trajectory that begins with laser-focus even before your kid hits high school. Call me crazy, but I think it’s okay to let kids be kids.

3) I don’t remember my parents doing all of this college stuff with me… because they didn’t. I picked the schools I went to. I wrote my applications. I handled it with minimum input from them, because honestly, if a kid can’t get themselves through the process here without mommy and daddy pointing out every step of the way, they’re unlikely to succeed at ANY college, much less a “top” one.

Want to know what needs to be happening through high school for your kid to be on track for the right college? Here you go. I may not be an expert, but I’m a realist—and unlike a lot of folks I know with high school seniors, we haven’t really found this year stressful.

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I’m always behind

I realize that we are probably the last people on earth to have discovered Sherlock, but OMG, are you watching Sherlock?? I’ve never really understood all the fuss about Benedict Cumberbatch—I mean, fine, he’s an actor? Who acts well? And I have always enjoyed this ridiculousness—but now I get it. I GET IT. TEAM SHERLOCK 4EVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Seriously, if there’s an evening I think we’re going to watch it and then it turns out we can’t for some reason, I become despondent. And I’m probably headed for a full nervous breakdown, because we’re almost done with Season 3 and then what am I going to do with my life? I just love it more than anything I’ve seen on television in forever. I love it more than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (don’t tell Monkey), which is saying something, because I really love S.H.I.E.L.D. more than is probably normal.

Better late than never, right? I think so.

Right. CUE THE AWKWARD SEGUE: I want to say “Why didn’t you tell me??” about Sherlock, except that I’m sure you did and I didn’t listen. And many of you warned me about all of these pesky FEELINGS I would be having this year and I was all NOPE, NOT ME! And of course I was wrong, because I am often wrong. Also I am behind (per usual) on figuring things out. I feel like I’m just starting to figure out just how hard this whole releasing-my-kid-into-the-world thing is, and “Why didn’t you tell me?” is the wrong question, I know. The right question is, “Why didn’t I listen?” or maybe “How do I make it more bearable?” You’re welcome to read more on Alpha Mom, but fair warning, it’s a little sappy. I’m sorry. We can always go back to talking about Sherlock, if you’d rather.

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I have poor planning skills

Having children just a year apart in school has its advantages, sometimes—they often do the same activities at the same time, and this year when so many things are broken into a 9th/10th night and an 11th/12th night, we only have to go once—but somehow I forgot about the whole TWO KIDS HEADING TO COLLEGE AT NEARLY THE SAME TIME thing.

It’s not fair, really. I am constantly gauging and assessing Chickadee’s experiences this year to help us make decisions about how to handle things with Monkey. This is (surprise!) resulting in a litany of “But how come HE doesn’t have to—” and “but when I was a junior—” and the occasional “But Chickie didn’t—” and that’s SUPER FUN. I’m really beginning to understand how people with 4 or more children end up with the oldest and the youngest feeling like they were raised by completely different people. Live and learn! Or live and give up! Either way!

Lucky for me, years of raising “different” kids and having my perception of what’s truly important in life challenged for… oh… years on end (NOT THAT I’M BITTER) has left me in an interesting place when it comes to college prep. Specifically: any time I read an article about how to get your kid into the BEST school for the BEST life, I laugh and laugh and laugh. In fact, I think I’m going to be writing up my very own ESSENTIAL COLLEGE PREP TIMELINE for Alpha Mom very soon, but I promise it’s not going to look anything like what you’re used to.

In the meantime, here’s my take on what’s wrong with the GOGOGO mentality of pushing kids to focus on college from a young age, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to read that I don’t think pressure is the only path to excellence. Spoiler alert: You don’t get to go to college with them, folks. Maybe let them figure most of it out on their own.

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Mama’s got a new set of wheels

I have decided that time is a terribly confusing construct. There were years when it seemed to drag on and on and on and I was sure that my children would never grow up and we would be frozen in time, forever. Then I bought a new car and went to write about it and thought to myself, “Surely I have only owned the previous car for a few years, right?” So I went and looked it up and no, actually we bought my previous car almost six years ago. How is that even possible?? Also, how is it possible that we bought that car knowing it would someday go to Chickadee (and laughed about, at that time) and now said child is practically an adult? DARK MAGIC.

Anyway. I bought a new car. Did I mention that? I bought a new car and then I wrote all about it, sort of, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you could go read about it. I love my new car. It is ridiculous how much I love my new car, really. And I’m not just saying that because Otto programmed the display to pop up a picture of the dogs when I start the car up, either. Probably.

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Sir, that is not how you (but you do)

I don’t want to alarm everyone (LIES; I would like you to please be just as alarmed as I am), but it appears that my youngest precious babykins is now officially 16 years old, which is impossible, because I just gave birth to him a couple of years ago. Clearly there is some black magic at work here, and I would like it to cease and desist immediately.

Part of this is my fault. Well… technically it’s all my fault (Parenting! Because guilt is forever!), but one particular part of it is especially my fault. Remember when Monkey skipped a grade? That seemed like such a good idea at the time. Blah blah blah appropriate academic challenge, blah blah blah more mature peers, blah blah blah HA HA HA MOM YOU FORGOT THAT GIVES YOU ONE LESS YEAR WITH YOUR KID, DUMMY. So: my fault. Also my fault that somehow it never occurred to me that we would spend the better part of this year getting Chickadee ready to launch and then once she’s out of the house we’d have to turn around and do it all over again RIGHT AWAY with him. Or, more specifically: We’d be spending a lot of time this year saying, “We need to do XYZ with Chickie. Heck, let’s go ahead and do it with Monkey, too, because he’s only a year behind.”

Chickadee got luggage for Christmas. (MERRY CHRISTMAS, GET OUT!) Monkey got his own set this morning for his birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GET OUT!) (And then I bit my tongue because NO NO DON’T GO YOU’RE NOT READY. Mmmmmph.) This afternoon we are headed to the bank to open his first checking account so that he can blow his birthday money on fast living without having to clear it through me. (Fast living = online gaming and D&D manuals, of course.) (more…)

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We made you some things

Hey, remember how my kid came down with something flu-ish on Christmas? Because of course she did? And then a week went by and figured it was just her, so on New Year’s Eve Day when we were making vision boards and I wasn’t feeling so hot, I figured it was no big deal… right up until it became clear that yes indeed, I was going to be ringing in the new year with a fever and a lot of grumpiness. Oh well.

I don’t know what sort of virus it is (was), but I finished up my board in bed, yesterday, and today I am up but moving kind of slow. That’s fine. While I go drink a whole lotta water and work on putting Christmas away, I have three things for you.

Thing the first: A really hard question over at Alpha Mom, which you may find interesting if you have younger, dating teens.

Thing the second: My vision board for this year (click to embiggen).
mir-vboard-2016-small

Thing the third: Chickadee’s board for this year (click to embiggen). (Shared with permission and my favorite, favorite one of hers ever. 2016 may just be amazing, friends.)
chickie-vboard-2016-small

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While we build our boat

How was your Christmas? Ours was lovely, just before the family scattered on their various journeys, and right now I am struggling to get back into “real life” mode while ALSO dealing with the fact that we’re under a flash flood warning and our yard has turned into a river (thanks, Obama!). This means that the dogs are all manner of freaked out—Duncan likes to bark to let me know he heard thunder, which is SUPER USEFUL—and also because they are delicate flowers, they don’t want to go outside in the rain and mud. And that’s fine, if they want to learn how to use a toilet, but apparently that’s not an option.

In short: it’s wet and dark and muddy and loud and I am running out of Nature’s Miracle. (If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself lucky. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.)

I wrote you a post over at Alpha Mom, though, and I had plenty of time to write it because I haven’t seen my kid in days. Well, that’s an exaggeration: she tends to surface for food and Netflix binging, but as we continue the Countdown To Launch, we just opened up a whole new world of freedom here. It’s all so weird. I mean, she’s like, I dunno, 10 years old, right? Yeah.

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Mean Mom, reporting for duty

In the continuing saga of Mir Gives Out Advice On The Internet Like She Knows Stuff Or Something, today at Alpha Mom I’m tackling the question of how to handle kids and parties where there may be drinking and/or drugs.

Spoiler alert: I am not the Cool Mom.

Also, I’ll offer this addendum: These days I have to talk more often and more in depth with my kids about how to narc without being found out, as both of them have attained Snitch: Expert Level. While their friends are good kids and there’s not a lot I worry about, I worry more about one of them being taken to task for narcing than I am about them drinking. So there’s that. At the same time, none of our kids are immune, so it’s worth discussing, and by that I mean an ongoing discussion.

… even if that discussion always ends with, “I’m the reason you drink, right, Mom?” (Yes, honey.)

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Two turkeys, no waiting

Remember when I used to write here regularly? I can’t decide if my life is less interesting now or if I just finally realized my life is not nearly as interesting as I once believed. It’s probably best not to dwell on it.

Today we are trying to Return To Normal Life, only that’s working about as well as you might imagine when my entire family returned on Saturday, over-stimulated and under-rested. Otto is a pretty good sport, as you know—plus when he’s tired he’s not mean, because he is a fully evolved human—but the kids spent most of Saturday in bed and then grumbled around for a while on Sunday and this morning they’re both sick. Because of course they are. (In fairness, Monkey told me he wasn’t feeling well on Saturday, I was just trying to wish it away because that’s a thing that’s worked so well in the past. HAHA. Kid made it 15 minutes at school today before I had to pick him up. Now he’s home with an ear infection and a lot of guilt-inducing comments about how he TOLD me he was sick!)

Chickadee is at school, though, because (quiz time):
A) She is a conscientious student.
B) She is paranoid about falling behind in her AP classes (read: all of her classes).
C) She wants to see her friends.
D) She fears I will give her a hard time for staying home.
E) She’s doing me a solid because she knows Monkey is sicker.
or
F) Some combination of the above.

This was all a fitting end to my few days of solitude, I guess. (more…)

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Totally not getting dressed today

Greetings from my very quiet, very not-filled-with-frantic-cooking house. I am busy working in my pajamas and the dogs are very busy holding down the floor in my office, and this is very much like a lot of other days in my life because, hey, freelancing is all about not having to put on real pants. But it is also unlike other days because USUALLY on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I am baking and prepping while the teenagers alternately complain that there is nothing to eat and insist they’re not hungry yet.

This year, though, I got a good night’s sleep last night while my children stayed up all night on a bus with a hundred of their closest pals. (Sounds super fun, right? FOR THEM.) This morning I got a rapid series of texts from one teen proclaiming the greatness of coffee and the other one is ignoring me completely, but is, in the wise words of an adult on his bus, “grumpier than George Costanza’s dad.” Oh. Well, then. I’m sure once they get to a crowded, noisy hotel he’ll perk right up! HAHAHAHAAAAAA.

So I wrote you this post at Alpha Mom, yesterday, before they left, and I stand by it. It’s weird, not having them here. But it’s okay. They’re having a big adventure and I am having a little extra quiet time to think about how marvelous it is that they are. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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