Sophomore Angst

September 11, 2011

Well, school’s on.

Last year, because of the trial I was involved in at work, I missed the first day of school.  It was Lemon’s first day of high school, Mouse’s first day of 7th grade, and my first day of trial.  I remember trying so hard to get out of work in time to be home for dinner, but that didn’t happen.  Then I thought “at least daylight, maybe I can be home in the daylight” – and it seemed like it was going to happen.

And then the train was experiencing severe delays.  And I cried.  Quite literally.  Standing underground in a giant heat-vat, I had tears.

This year, I had my vacation, and I took an extra day.  Why?  because, goddamnit, I was going to be there on the first day of school.

And I was.

Although … Lemon started the day after Mouse.  At our high school, they have all the freshman start one day, and they have the school to themselves, they have lunch provided by the Rotary Club, and they have a moment to feel the place out.  That was Lemon’s first day last year.  This year, she started school the next day.  So the new freshmen could have their momentary pause in the chaos that is the high school.

[Our school district is comprised of 8 neighborhood K-8 schools.  I think ours is the biggest, and there are approximately 65 kids per grade.  All 8 of these schools come together for high school, making up a class of right around 500 kids.  It’s a huge shift for the kids, to go from a class of 65 kids they’ve been in school with for nine years, to a class of 500.  Then throw in the other 3 classes of 500??? They need that day.]

Mouse’s first day … I woke up early with her, I made her french toast.  She took two bites and declared herself “full.”  (i.e., nervous).  Her friends rang the doorbell.  I tried to get a photo ….

(Fortunately, WD also had a camera, and took pictures while I made the uneaten french toast.  We have better.)

She didn’t come home after school, but was willing to text me about her teachers, her classes, who was in her classes, etc.  She seemed to have a good day.

While she was at school, Lemon got her braces off.  Then she went to talk to her guidance counselor and get her schedule.

Then came the stress.

At 3 p.m., she had to go to crew practice.


Lemon had a great spring with crew.  She took to the coxswain position as if she were born for it.  It was a great confidence booster, a friend-maker, and fun.  So then when the option came along to do summer crew, she jumped on it.  Optional within the summer program was a trip to Canada.  Expensive, but seemed worth it.  She jumped on that, too.

She didn’t share with me while in Canada, but it’s come clear since then that it was a very stressful experience for her.  First of all, there was the fact that she was the only female coxswain.  But the only male coxswain was 18, and they had some U17 boats.  Lemon had to cox those, too.

(Yes, I do say “cox” a lot this year.  It’s kinda fun.)

The end result was a lot of stress.  This was the Canadian Royal Henley, so it was a very serious race.  There were weigh-ins every day, 5:30 a.m. report times, and practice going until 8:30 at night.  Since she’s been home, she’s referenced the stress level she experienced on multiple occasions.

In addition to the race-stress, it was also the most independent she’s ever had to be.  Trips to the ATM machine, the grocery store, cooking, cleaning, getting herself up for the weigh-ins without her mom to double/triple/quadruple check that she actually got OUT of the bed (instead of just sitting up and shouting I’M AWAKE! to then lie back down the second said mother walks out of the room).  I don’t think she’d point to those things as the cause of the stress, because they were coupled with a very early taste at dorm living, hanging out with a bunch of upper classmen until late in the night, and a sense of accomplishment after making fried rice for the group and being showered with compliments for her cooking talent.

But at the end of the day, she looks back on Canada as a Very Stressful Experience.  While we were on vacation, she did groan at one point about fall crew and said to me, ‘I think I’m associating “crew” with “Canada,” and I need to change my thinking, because it’s not the same thing.”

But in the meantime, it was time to sign up for fall crew (yes, they manage to monopolize the entire year ….)

“I want to do fall crew.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure.”

a day later

“Lemon, are you certain you want to do fall crew?”

“certain, without a doubt.”

after getting an email from the coach saying we must sign up ASAP and there are limited slots:

“MOM!  You have to sign me up for fall crew RIGHT NOW or I won’t get in!”

“So, Lemon, you’re SURE you want to do it?”

“yes!  Hurry up!  Sign me up!”

[and pay the corresponding $700]

So I did.

She missed the first week, and while her coach had previously said that was fine, he had said so before there were space limitations.  Because I wasn’t sure that it would now be a problem, I signed her up but didn’t pay, and I wrote him asking if her missing a week for vacation would mean she shouldn’t do the season.  He didn’t respond, but then she ended up on rosters.

We got home from vacation.

Lemon got her braces off.

Hung out with some friends.

Spoke with her guidance counselor.

Hung out with some more friends.

Then had to cut it short because … she had to go to crew.

I had offered to drive, since it was my last day off.  In the car, she was full of big sighs.

Me:  “What’s the matter?”

Lem:  “I’m just stressed.”

Me:  “Why?”

Lemon:  “Crew. I kind of wish I wasn’t doing it.”

The irritation that this came after I had asked for confirmation after confirmation that she was up for this didn’t come until later.

We talked a bit, while sitting in traffic, about what she would want to do with her time, instead of crew:  To have more time to get organized in her academics.

In my mind – we hadn’t yet paid the hefty price tag for the third-party (not school-based in the fall) sports season; she hadn’t been there yet; there is another coxswain in the fall (unlike in the summer), so she wouldn’t be letting them down; 3 seasons is a bit excessive.  At the same time, this will be her team again in the spring (she completely plans to do the spring), and she cannot let them down and expect no repercussions.

So I told her to go to the practice and see how it goes.  Get a sense of the season, and how she feels after that.

I also had told her that if she is going to pull out of her extra curricular, she had to expect that WD and I would enforce her decision to spend extra time on her academics.  There is some amount of her (I am sure) that doesn’t want to do crew because she wants to spend time with friends in the afternoon.  WD thinks that’s a bad, bad, bad thing.  I do not.  I think that it’s fine, within reason.  I think a 15 yo 10th grader is not off base for wanting to be social.

I picked her up from crew 3 hours later (after fighting the most ridiculous traffic – it’s like Boston/Cambridge doesn’t understand the words “traffic pattern” or “stop light” and instead, the cars are like so much water flowing into a tiny little funnel – unbelievable).  I drove a friend home, so we couldn’t talk right away.

Once the friend got out of the car, Lemon told me that the season has been set up in such a way that 2 coxswains are required.  Probably because two coxswains signed up.  (Because after one of their mothers asked and asked and asked, one of the coxswains insisted that she wanted to be there.)

I told her that in those circumstances, she cannot pull out.  She has to do it.

She agreed, but was not happy.  Not at all.

The first day of school, she found “stressful” – she continued to pout and whine about crew.

The second day of school, she pouted.

The third day – she seemed okay.

I gave as much as help as I could, to boost her feelings of organization and capability while feeling like she has too much to do.  I packed her lunches this week (not the rule – they pack their own lunches).  I helped her to go through check lists of school and crew needs to be sure she caught everything.  But she is ready to take it back over now, going into the second week.

Of course, I’ll be here in case she needs more help.

I think she’s going to be okay.  Happy, even.


One comment

  1. I think it’s great that she’s going to be on crew again, but oh my, such stress! Such drama! I hope things settle down soon.

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