Trial and Error

I like learning new things, but I hate making mistakes. I don’t mind the “trial” part but the “error” part is distinctly painful. In a way, then, parenting and homeschooling are good for me as I am constantly forced to be wrong and, because my kids need me for their physical and emotional well-being, I can’t just bail out, which forces me to try, try again. I don’t like trying, trying again. I like trying, succeeding, moving on.

Recently I made a rookie mistake, which shouldn’t be a surprise since I am, in fact, a rookie at raising teenagers. The mistake I made was to equate intellectual readiness with academic readiness, specifically, thinking that since my child can do the thinking part of a class, she’s ready for advanced versions of that class that require both logical thinking and independent executive functioning. This led to a painful semester with dual enrollment at the community college, made more painful because one of the skills my child hadn’t yet learned was how to ask for help when she began falling behind, and one of the skills I hadn’t yet learned was how to spot when she was foundering.

It’s painful for all of us, and I feel embarrassed to have dropped the ball as a parent, but at least it’s the kind of lesson we can recover from and, hopefully, come away stronger and maybe even a little wiser. And for a child who had wanted to start college two years early, it was extremely lucky that this lesson came about during a one-class semester at a college she attended from home rather than during a full schedule at a college a long drive or flight away.

So, we’re re-grouping, circling back to high-school-level classes, at least in the humanities where the expectations are often more amorphous and where my STEM-minded child could use the extra guidance high school level classes provide. I expect that this will help her, but the biggest beneficiary might be her younger brother, whose middle-school schedule just got a lot more fun-oriented.

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