OK, so my oldest child is in 8th grade this year. Eighth grade. I learned tonight that he pretty much needs to decide what he wants to do for a living now. In eighth grade. To put it in perspective, I just found out what I wanted to do with my life this past year. At age 37.
Austin and I went to an orientation type event at the high school today. We went from class to class and listened to the importance of forming a 4 year plan; a 4 year plan that needs to be decided on now. They stressed over and over the importance of choosing classes wisely and always working toward your long term goal of college and after. I just sat there thinking, "But my son is only in 8th grade! I swear just yesterday he was learning how to walk. What happened? When did he grow up? When did he go from the little kid who was obsessed with animals and Hot wheels and Pokemon to the young man sitting next to me who was being instructed to start thinking about his career path? I had to bite my lip to keep from tearing up.
I'm glad we went to this curriculum introduction because man, oh man, have things changed since I was in high school. Did you know that a lot of high schools offer courses that count toward college credit? Our school offers classes that, when you do well on the final tests, can count toward a semester of college. On the one hand - yay for the parents because who wouldn't want their kid to essentially get a semester of college for free? On the other hand - HE'S ONLY IN EIGHTH GRADE AND YOU'RE ALREADY TALKING ABOUT HIS SECOND YEAR IN COLLEGE! I started hyperventilating and my son looked at me as if to say, "See, I told you school was evil."
Austin will have to take a very long, very important test in November which will determine his placement next year in high school. Come January, he'll have to choose the classes he'd like to take. You know, keeping in mind his college plans and what he'd like to do with his life. That's a lot of pressure! How is a 13 year old supposed to know what he wants to do with his life? I know a lot of people who didn't decide what they wanted to do until after college. Some switched majors fifteen times before graduating. Most ended up doing something completely unrelated to their majors.
Austin and I talked a little bit about his future career. "So what do you want me to do, Mom?"
"I want you to do something that makes you happy."
"Well, you're a smart kid. I'd hate to see you settle for a job that doesn't use your full potential. You could really do anything you wanted to."
Did I just say that? Did I say that out loud to him? Flashbacks of my parents and my guidance counselor looking disappointed while admonishing me, "If only you'd work up to your potential.... If only you'd apply yourself, you could do anything you wanted to...." whirred through my head.
Jackson piped up and said, "I know what I want to do!"
"That's great," I think. At least one of my kids is driven and knows what he wants to do with his life! "What do you want to do, Jackson?"
"I'm going to work at the bakery so I get free cookies," he proudly announced.
That's my boy!
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