Monday, November 4, 2013

High School

atheist parenting being a mother having children difficult children raising strong-willed teens mothers and daughters mothers and sons
high school homeschool
It is nighttime and our family has been in such an emotional state today.  I'm exhausted.
Elizabeth has a huge dream of attending a performing arts high school that is in Melbourne Victoria.  Surprised?  She has never wanted to attend high school AT ALL and now this...this late in her high school years?

But she has her heart set on this school.  It started out as a fangirl thing in that an Aussie celebrity went to this school.  But the more Elizabeth looked at the website, the more wonderful it seemed to her.

There are so many factors and conversations swirling around with regards to this school and there is no possible way for me to explain everything fully here.  But we decided to give it a go and to take this request seriously. 

Elizabeth and I visited the school for a tour and for talking with administration while we were visiting cold and rainy Melbourne.  They were nice.  The school did not stand out in any way.  It looks and functions like any other high school in Australia.  Not brilliant on the academics and a small theater building.  Elizabeth is enamored of the idea of their spring musical.  (If only other schools would have spring musicals...)  She reports that the staff is amazing.  (The only theater staff member that I met was just coming out of the bathroom and was hiking up his pants.)  Elizabeth likes the idea of sponsor families providing room and board for international students, and she would need that because our family is heading back home in less than five months!  (If only colleges has places for their students to live...)  But she wants to stay...  She sees their theater program as essential to her happiness in life.

Look, I GET IT!  I get it how my passionate and determined daughter would cling so tightly to the idea of this school.  Jer and I are doing our absolute best to support her, to look at her request fully, to make this happen if it makes sense.  But we are also concerned about several things:  the cost, the fact that we would be half of a world away from her, her high levels of fear and anxiety in public and at social functions, and her incredibly small inventory of foods that she will eat.  Every one of these factors is very problematic for me.  As for an estimation of the cost, we are looking at it costing us anywhere from 20-30K for her to stay here in this country for a year in order to go to HIGH SCHOOL, which doesn't make a lot of sense.  But the experience would be quite wonderful for her if we could figure out a way to swing it.  In some ways I would LOVE to see her get to do this.

She has never wanted to even consider going to a school until this school came into her radar.  In fact, she has been so happy homeschooling up to this point.  Now she cries and feels as though she must attend this school or her life has no meaning.  WHY oh why couldn't I have gone to school last year?!!!! is her lament. 

She will not consider any stateside school.  Anything else, to her, is failure and disappointment...

It is not ruled out...but not looking great....  Communication with the school and with immigration continues as we explore this possibility.  Welcome to the highly-emotional state our home right now.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  I am a Buzz Kill 
Or you may enjoy reading:  Sissy's Got a Brand New Bag 
Or try this one:  Unschooling One Through the Storm of Adolescence


  1. Oh dear, what a difficult decision. Could she try out this school while you are still in the country? Maybe attending a few months will change her mind. If she really wants to stay, I would definitely suggest that she needs to get a job to at least contribute a little to the cost. It'll teach her an important lesson.

    Something you should aslo consider that this situation will help her grow and maybe overcome her anxiety.

    I hope you will find the right decision for your family, Karen!

  2. Oh my goodness. What a wild ride! I remember when I was her age I thought I just HAD to go to the Lee Strasberg School in NYC because that is where Claire Danes went (I was a child of the 90s and I loved My So-Called Life). I'm so glad that I did not pursue that because I really had no interest in theatre, as a discipline or a career. I guess I thought that going there would turn me into someone cooler than I was. I'm not saying this is her situation. It does sound like she needs a change. Maybe not one that costs so much, and has her living on a separate continent (you are so much braver than I am -- that aspect alone would force me to say no). You seem like a parent who is very in touch with your children's needs. I'm sure you will do the right thing, whatever that might be.

    1. Are you kidding me about this right now?!!!!!!!!!!!
      You rock, Kelli!
      I swear I feel about a zillion times better reading this.
      I wish we could talk more! If you come back, please let me know how you dealt with your disappointment, how you handled it, how you figured out your cool.
      Thank you SO much for commenting!!!!!!!!!!


    2. I had to come back because I am intrigued! I grew up in a small town. At some point I realized I had a strong affinity for the arts -- reading, writing, art, music, etc. No one else in my family got it. They never once said, "Hey, wanna go to the Museum of Fine Arts?" or "How about we listen to some opera on the radio?" So, I was a stranger in my own family. I can't believe this is the case for your daughter, but perhaps hearing a bit of my story will help you to understand better what she is feeling? At school, kids were mostly at one or the other end of the spectrum with academics; they were grade-grubbers who just wanted an A, but didn't care a scrap about what they were learning, or they were skipping school and getting detention. I didn't belong on either end, but I tended to hang out with the troublemakers because I wasn't all that interested in being Valedictorian just for the sake of it. Again, I know your daughter isn't in school, but I think the theme here is "belonging." I didn't belong. Not in my family, not in the school, and not even really with my friends (I only had 1 detention in my whole academic career and got mostly A's, while they had a much harder time). I still struggle with this sense of not belonging as an adult. Thankfully, I found a husband who wants to go to the MFA, talk about Tolkien, or listen to me blather on and on for hours about vital records (I'm a genealogy buff). Other than my husband, I really don't have any "close" friends. I'm an introvert, so that's totally fine, but sometimes I do feel lonely. The difference is that now I can identify it as such; I can name it, and then deal with it. Maybe your daughter is looking for a sense of belonging, or to define her identity in a way that she hasn't been able to do before, for one reason or another. This might be an acute sensation or something she has struggled with. The best tip I can give you is this: the Lee Strasberg School required a resume with at least some acting experience on it. For awhile, I would browse the audition section of the paper and think about trying out for something. But, even with multiple opportunities presenting themselves, I never went to a single audition! I think that's when I knew that it wasn't the theatre that was calling me but something more intangible. I would say that before you shell out the big bucks, and/or leave your daughter behind in Australia, you ask her to do some acting. I mean, she should know for sure that it's the THEATRE that she wants, and not something more abstract. "Being an Actor" and "Acting" are not the same thing. "Being an Actor" has cache, and provides one with an identity and role models, and a sense of accomplishment and pride. But, one has to really like acting or else it's just a facade. Maybe she is already doing theatre locally? If not, you should consider making it a prerequisite.

    3. That last sentence should have said "could consider" rather than "should." I'm in no position to tell you what to do :)

    4. Oh, and regarding my one ever directly told me "no." I just realized on my own that it wasn't the right thing when I couldn't face the idea of actually getting on a stage! LOL It might be very different for your daughter, and I really detest when people say things like "This too shall pass" when I'm suffering. Teenagers feel everything so much stronger than we do, and they don't have the benefit of time yet. I didn't feel like myself until I was about 30, despite having a kid at 22. There will be no miracle, whether she goes or doesn't go, but she can't know that at her age. I have a soft spot for the trials and tribulations of seems so fresh to me. I am still recovering from it! I think people that feel things deeply tend to look for meaning and purpose in a more conscious way than some others do. I think that also makes us impulsive. If something "feels" right, it is right! And, most of the time that is true. I struggle to engage my analytic mind when my emotions are strong, but it is worth hearing from both sides of my brain once in awhile! It might be worth trying to enlist your daughter's analytic faculties and get her to approach the decision-making process from a place that is less tied to her wishes and desires for fulfillment. I guess that's why I suggested she do some actual acting. Though I've never done it myself, my guess is that it's not nearly as glamorous as being a celebrity...and even celebrity status doesn't guarantee fulfillment and happiness. In fact, it seems most often to lead strife! The adult in me would have advised the emotional teenager in me that being a stay-at-home mom with two kids is actually remarkably fulfilling, and I never have to worry about the paparazzi taking photos of my cellulite :p

  3. I have had my daughters desperate to do things that they said were important to their future happiness. I weighed up the situation a few times over the years and I said NO. Both now shake their heads and wonder what they were thinking! Personally, and this is just me, there is no way on earth I would let my daughter live in a strange country at a young and vulnerable age. I am an over protective mum though, yes that is me! You and I may be different, but it can be a big bad world out there! I did finally give my blessings to my daughter travelling to India to work in an orphanage and thank goodness she then turned around and said no herself. She was going to be 19 at the time though, and I doubt in the end I would have actually let her go without me.

    1. I realize that the hardest thing for me right now is knowing how heartbroken she is going to be and that it will be quite a blow for her to absorb.
      But being the best parent to her is pretty tough, hey.


Leave a comment!