Happy. And Not A Sociopath.


As one of my children gets closer and closer to the ADULT DECISIONS phase of his life (college, career, etc) I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want for my kids. How do I want to guide him? Advise him? What lessons do I want him to learn that I felt were important along my path?

At first I just thought I want my kids to be HAPPY wherever life leads them. But – you know – homicidal maniacs and egocentric douchebags are probably happy. SO…I want my kids to be HAPPY and KIND. That’s it. I want them to look at their life as an adult and be happy. And I want them to be kind.

But right now all anyone talks about is AP classes and GPAs. Actually, if I’m honest, parents talk about this type of thing forever. Honors programs. Advanced classes. This starts in elementary school. (SIDENOTE: If your kid does not get put in whatever honors program your school offers? But his friends do? Brace yourself. THIS IS A TOUGH PHASE.) For some kids? School and testing comes easy. The straight As are never a struggle. But there are a lot of kids like E who work their butts off for that B. And sometimes don’t get it. Has he still chosen to take honors classes periodically? Yes. He worked double-time in middle school to get into an honors English class several students declined. The guidance counselor pointed out OVER and OVER that many of the kids that got put in it opted OUT of it…so was I sure he wanted to opt IN? He did. And he loved it. So, do I encourage him to take the advanced classes? ONLY IF HE WANTS TO.

As long as I feel like he’s being challenged and that he’s having to work for his grades, I’m not going to stress about As versus Bs or AP versus Standard. Maybe if you’re a 4.0+ student trying to compete for top scholarships at top schools, then yeah. But there’s nothing wrong with being a 3.0 student competing for partial scholarships at state schools. THAT’S WHAT I DID. And you know what? I’m happy. And kind. And the things that have caused me anxiety in my adult life? Have nothing to do with academics or career choices. They have to do with my body/health and my relationships. Which would be the same if I was a high-powered attorney or a preschool teacher.

Nikki starts Kindergarten in the Fall. Maybe school will come easy for her. It came easy for Donnie, but he didn’t really apply himself due to his stance as the Guy In The Band. School came easier for me than it does for E, but I went to a small school, so we didn’t have a lot of advanced programs. We both went to state schools and are happy with the careers that led us to. Did we have scholarships? Yes. And we both lost them. Did we take out tons of loans? Yes. We’re still paying on them. But…are we happy? YES.

Should E take that AP History class in the Fall? Eh. I don’t know. I have kinda encouraged him NOT to because I feel like this year about killed him and next year his extracurricular performances almost DOUBLE. But he might do it anyway. Because it might make him happy.

So, you know, I think its all working out okay.


9 thoughts on “Happy. And Not A Sociopath.”

  1. You rock! I think my folks were in a similar place – if I was happy what I was doing and had a good education under my belt – did it matter what classes I took? I think that’s how I ended up with a degree in performing arts and now working as a customer service rep lol. My parents are quite happy that I have a job, that I pay my bills and stuff like that whereas my Aunt asks everytime I see her “When are you going to do something related to your degree?”. TBH i try not to care what she thinks of me because it’ll never be good enough.

  2. Exactly. One thing you will not learn in class is how to find your own happiness and continue to throughout your life. My oldest has already felt the pressure (only in 3rd grade right now). Teachers make such a huge deal over doing well on SOL tests. She rocked those tests by the way, but each morning I could tell she was anxious. I will stress the importance of a good education, but if it’s in rocket science or play dough, I don’t care. I know quite a few people with degrees in one field and they changed their mind years later and went back to school for a different path. Whatever happens, I say enjoy the journey. It will all be just fine.

  3. Yeah, not sure about AP History. I can say that AP English and AP Math saved my butt in college. Definitely worth the extra heartache.

    Also, the skills that he is learning in his performances? Are ones that he will take with him throughout life.

    Just my 2 cents (for all it’s worth! ;-)

  4. Love your outlook on this subject! I tell my 16 year old all the time that as long as he is doing his best, whatever grade he makes is good enough for me. Take time to be a kid and enjoy it because we grow up all too soon and you never get these carefree years back. Fortunately for my son, school comes very easily for him. But my younger one will be another story. I fear he will struggle as he is already struggling in kindergarten! So all I ask is that they do their best work.

  5. My son is in second grade, and his teacher was a little taken aback when I said, ‘These marks are great, but the most important thing to me is this: is he a nice, kind, thoughtful kid in class?’ She assured me he most definitely is and that he was considered a leader in class.

    I happened to be listening to Dr. Laura one day (she generally just makes me angry, but this really resonated). A mother called in asking what she should do about her child’s grades which were mostly C’s. Dr. Laura asked, ‘is she working hard? Do you believe that this is what she is capable of?’ The mother was honest and said, ‘Yes’. Then Dr. Laura asked, ‘Is she a kind person?’ The mother then rattled off how awesome her child was in terms of helping out, being nice, etc. Dr. Laura said, ‘You know what? There are plenty of smart people out there, but the world really lacks NICE people. It sounds like she is going to be just fine by being one of the NICE people.’ She wasn’t saying that her daughter shouldn’t keep working hard for the grades she was receiving, but making more of a point that kindness is overlooked in favor of ‘smarts’.

    Whew. Rattled off there-sorry!

  6. Happy and kind – I love this thought! I don’t have kids yet, but I love this enough to unlurk for today and say so. You are such an awesome mom.

  7. Man, that’s so great you are laid back about grades. My dad would flip his shit if I had one question wrong in tests. So now I am absolutely TERRIFIED of university and am having trouble starting my ‘real’ education because I am so afraid to fail. Sounds like you’re walking the fine line between too pushy and not pushy enough.


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