Sometimes it sucks being a parent. When they’re babies, you cant wait for them to get big enough to make their own food, see to their own hygiene and possibly massage your feet and tell you what a wonderful mother you are. Then they grow up and start thinking for themselves and you wish they were helpless infants again that did exactly what you wanted because they had no choice in the matter.
I’ve been super-stressing lately about Big Son. This is his last year of high school. I want him to be an academic MACHINE, churning out perfect A’s and slaying people left, right and center with his brilliance. I want him to be the first name they think of when its time for university scholarships. Heck, I want him to eat, breathe and sleep schoolwork and career goals.
But young adults have this nasty habit of doing whatever the hell they want. It’s very frustrating. Big Son says he wants to go to University and become a lawyer. But he takes a rather relaxed approach to making those goals happen. Sure he goes to school and does a bit of work here and there. But he aint living and breathing schoolwork. In MY opinion, he’s not very focused on his future at all. And we all know that my opinion is THE most important one around here. Dammit.
Two nights ago, my frustration went nuclear. I raged at Big Son about his sub-standard committment to his studies. Too much sport, too much girlfriend, too much texting. Not enough schoolwork, reading, and that foreign concept called, ‘Hard Work.’ “There’s only eight months left in the schoolyear and you don’t have a hope in hell of winning a scholarship! It’s time to get real about your future. You’re headed nowhere… blah blah.” The very worst of the academically-aggressive-fiapoto-psycho-Wendt Side of me had taken over of all semblance of common-sense and decency. It was rather epic. He may have cried when it was all done. I know I did. I apologized. But the words had been said.
Yesterday we went to Big Son’s school for the Pacific Scholar’s Awards Night. He said he was getting ‘a something.’ I was feeling bad about my Tyrannosaurus-sized blow-out at him so I told the Hot Man we should all go as a family and support our son. ‘Even if he’s only getting a certificate saying he spelled his name right.’ We made a couple of ula lole ( candy lei’s). I had the kids dress up nice. ‘I don’t want the teachers to think we’re bush people. Wear your Pumpkin Patch dress so they will think we are refined bush people.’ Big Daughter complained because she had a Japanese test to study for. I told her to zip it and take her text book with her. That way people will think we’re EDUCATED global citizen bush people!
We went. Big Son got a certificate for passing NCEA. We clapped. We put his ula lole on him. Little Son whined through the keynote speaker’s address, When are we going home? I wanted to twist his ear but of course I didnt. That would only confirm our bush people status. We’re not that kind of bush people. We wait and twist their ear when we get home…ha. I gave Little Son that silent but deadly look. The kind that conveys mayhem and destruction and strikes fear in a whiney child’s heart. He was suitably impressed and there was no more whining.
Then they presented awards for 1st, 2nd, 3rd in each level. I mentally prepped myself not to cast envious looks upon the parents of children who WERE academic superstars. I will remain impassive and calm. I will not get mad that my son is lazy and unfocused. I will not throw rotten eggs at the proud parents of children who are not lazy. I promise.
They announced 3rd, 2nd. We clapped. Then they announced 1st. The Top Pacific Scholar. They said Big Son’s name. I was too stunned to even cheer CHOO-HOO like a proper bush parent should. Big Son got his award. It included one hundred dollars. My initial reaction to that was indignant on his behalf. A reaction that conveniently forgot that I’d just been lamenting his laziness. Ohmigosh, he works his butt off all year and all he gets is one hundred dollars?! Couldnt they have gotten a company to sponsor a decent financial reward? Hello, in Samoa the top student at SamCo was getting $1000! The top student at RLSS was getting an all-expenses paid trip to the USA! I wanted to shower my son with hundred dollar bills myself, right then and there. Long, colorful strings of hundred dollar bills. (That I would then take back to the bank the next day. Because they were just for show. You know, to make all the other parents feel bad about themselves.) Except I didnt have any hundred dollar bills. We had no more candy lei’s to put on him either. So we just clapped. (We are rather useless islander parents…)
Big Son smiled. A lot. He looked proud. Happy. The first thing he did was hug me and say, “See mum? Do you still think I have no hope in hell of getting a scholarship?”
A genuine bush people mum would probably have snapped, ‘Salapu!” And taken him home for some re-educating. But I often fail at being a bush people mum… I hugged him back. And tried not to cry. I was so very happy and relieved that in spite of his OUTWARD APPEARANCE laid-back approach to schoolwork – my son IS on track to achieving his academic goals. And yes, I felt rather guilty about my epic lecturing. It was a good day to be proven wrong.
Teachers and parents congratulated our son. And us for being his parents. I smiled in a dignified, reserved manner. Befitting the parents of an academic superstar. Because of course, such an achievement is no big deal beause we are academic superstar/global citizen/refined people and this kinda thing happens all the time. Ho hum. So blase. Until Little Son had to ruin it by exclaiming really loud in a really unrefined way – “Its so awesome! You won a hundred dollars! What are you gonna buy?” I knew I should have left him in the car…
When it was all done, we took the family to dinner. To Burger King of course. Like good bush parents. Where Bella hugged everyone and announced, “This is the bestest day ever. This is the awesomest family ever!”
And I told Big Son he could pay for it with his award money. Just kidding son!
Sometimes it does suck to be a parent. And sometimes it’s downright fabulous.