Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Stressful, Emotional Quotient-building morning

One of my friends on facebook recently posted on her status, "Oh, to be 15 again!" I wrote on her wall..."You couldn't pay me enough to go back!"

Don't get me wrong, I do have many fond memories of high school...Friday night football games, slumber parties with friends, sneaking out of the house to go "rolling", music blasting, hanging out at McDonald's, Pasquale's Pizza, or the school parking lot, having a mad crush on a boy and finding out that he "liked" me, too, first dates, spring baseball games, cheerleading camp, driving for the first time, etc. But NONE of those memories include studying (which I didn't do much of anyway), the awkwardness of social relationships at that age, or especially the nights I would cry myself to sleep because my best friend/boyfriend hurt my feelings.

H is in 10th grade. The second year at a new school. When people ask me or her whether we're glad she made the switch, there is NEVER a hesitation, and we always answer with a resounding "YES!" But the highs and lows of 10th grade are unbelievable. She is facing more and more homework, increasingly difficult subject matter (two of her 'honors' classes are using college textbooks), worrying about getting into a 'good' college, balancing basketball, academics and a social life, conflicts with friends, coping with unpredictable moods, and concerns about her appearance, As if that's not enough, she has to deal with all this while undergoing rapid physical and emotional changes - and without the benefit of life experience.


Last night, my daughter didn't have basketball workouts, practice or games after school, a rarity in her life. She came home right after school, relaxed a little bit, and then set in to do her homework. She was in a great mood...we had a wonderful dinner together, and talked about a lot of things she doesn't usually have the time and/or energy to talk about. She got to bed before 10:00 pm, which is another rare happening. This morning she popped out of bed and started getting ready for school. About 15 minutes later I heard her footsteps running from one room to another, and the inevitable, "Moooooommmmmmmmmmm!"

She had checked her email and realized she forgot an English reading assignment, the first chapter of Oedipus Rex. For my compulsive daughter, who NEVER forgets to turn in her homework, because she likes the extra boost her perfect homework score gives her grade, this was a catastrophe. Of monumental proportions. Suddenly, everything about school was terrible..."It's too much...It's too hard... I can't doooooo ittttt!!!" After I convinced her to sit down and breathe, she started to calm down a little bit. But there were still tears on the way to school. She emailed her teacher, asking if she could get partial credit if she turned it in late, and of course, he agreed.

A typical over-reaction from my teenage daughter. But on the positive side, these challenges may help develop what some experts believe is more important than IQ in predicting future success in work, personal and financial life: the 'Emotional Quotient' or 'EQ'. The EQ includes knowing and managing your emotions, motivating yourself, and recognizing and understanding other people's emotions as well as managing relationships. In other words, how YOU react to challenges in life.

H and I recently watched this Youtube video:



I keep watching it, over and over. I think it is actually embedded in my brain at this point. I told H this morning, it's like the man in the video. The challenge is not the end. It matters how you're going to finish. How you're going to react to the challenge. If you give up, it's all over. So hopefully, the challenges in H's teenage life will build her character, so that as an adult she will be able to respond to whatever life throws in her path. Forgetting one homework assignment is such a tiny obstacle, but in H's life, at this moment, it was huge.

There will be more challenges, more difficult, more heartbreaking. I wouldn't go back for a million dollars. But I'm glad I went through those years, because without them I wouldn't be the person I am today. H is going to be just fine.