'Senioritis' setting in

Dealing with a teen about to graduate brings special challenges

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

"Hey! In 37 days, 12 hours, 11 minutes and give or take a few seconds, I'm outta here!"

That has been the gleeful crowing of my second born awaiting his high school graduation day. It is altered only by an hourly update and, depending on if he is angry at me, also the seconds.

To which I reply, "If you don't buckle down and get your senioritis under control, you will be living here a long time."

"Senioritis" is a mental instability caused by the tunnel vision of an 18-year-old who thinks he knows it all. The condition is compounded by the spring weather and a state-mandated exit exam that as a sophomore told him he knew all he needed to know, and yet requires him to stay in school. (I wonder if I can sue the state for stupidity?)

"If I know what I need, then why the heck do I have to be here?" he keeps arguing.

I, also, am counting down the days until graduation just so that conversion doesn't have to take place again #&151; well not until my youngest, a seventh-grader, becomes a sophomore.

Had I not been through it before, I would be a mess. Lucky for the both of us, the one thing I do remember from being a kid was how it felt at graduation.

It was time to get on with my life. The last month of school was a haze filled with other adults giving me advice. As if that last tidbit was going to alter my life and without it I was doomed.

If you have not set your child on the path that you hope will help them achieve their goals and be happy by the time they are 12 or 13, don't expect them to suddenly take advice from you now that they are adults, because the only path they want to follow at this point is the one that leads out the door and down any road that will take them to a new experience without us #&151; just as it should be.

Besides, as parents, we are the only ones getting comfort out of talking.

My oldest son said it best: "There is a point right about in March when all the teachers, parents and relatives begin to sound the same. Just like Charlie Brown's teacher #&151; 'Whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa!'"

What I do in order to fill the urge to smother #&151; I mean, mother #&151; my graduate, is to get them a subscription to reality and a bon voyage present.

Since the bill paying and income tax doing fairies live at my house, I buy a box of envelopes, a roll of stamps and a pen. Also, a small file box with file folders, blank labels and list taped to the inside with the number of years that papers and invoices need to be stored.

Also living at my house is the "I'll get it, fix it and make it better fairy" so, I set up a portable medicine cabinet for them. When they are living on ramen, a $6 bottle of cold medicine is a lot, and since I don't re-supply it, I don't feel it is "momming" them.

I also make sure they have their birth certificates, Social Security numbers and (way before Teri Schivao) that their living wills and power of attorney are filled out.

The power of attorney has saved hundreds of dollars on FedEx and Western Union fees alone.

At our house, the boys already know about cleaning, how to do laundry without turning everything pink and basic banking.

They also all know their way around a kitchen, but I send them off with copies of recipes that they liked growing up.

News flash: I have just been informed that there is now only 37 days, 9 hours and 2 minutes before zero hour. I guess I better hurry before he implodes or actually graduates. Either way, this won't be helpful to parents who, for the first time, are dealing with a senior.

Wait, wait! One more piece of advice: "Whaaa, whaa, whaaa, whaa, whaa, whaa."

Nan Misner is the newsroom assistant for the Clarion.



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