Friday, February 17, 2012

True Mom Confessions 1

"My nightmare is for some coach or extra-curricular advisor to tell me that my child has Olympic-potential, which they can only realize through extensive sacrifice and training."

I didn't come up with this, but I can sooo relate. I have four children, all of whom could be "optimized." Why do they need to be optimized? Forget special needs, almost EVERYBODY I know is afraid their child might be "left behind."

Why is that? Well, according to this horrific vision of a future world spewed out by every newspaper, magazine, blog and tweet -- if your child doesn't score 1600 on the SATs, speak three languages, play the piano at Carnegie Hall, achieve national recognition in some sport or artistic endeavor, found a successful entrepreneurial company or heart-warming charitable outreach by age sixteen--you can bet they will be LEFT BEHIND.

Welcome to the future of brutal worldwide competition. Your child is not only competing against "their category" -- every other Wonderbread, middle or upper-middle class kid whose parents are bleeding themselves to provide them with every possible advantage...they really don't look that spectacular compared to the kid in some other part of the world. Rest assured, the other kid, who if they aren't already smarter than your child, is working ten times harder, thanks to their Tiger Mother or has achieved some higher level of some level of sophistication from their laissez-faire Continental Mother...or is that most coveted prize of all for college admission officers -- the touching "up from the ghetto" story.

Current things am not doing to "optimize" my children:

Our health insurance provider is Sanitas --and, please, Spaniards who hate them and Brits who hate their parent company, BUPA, spare me your complaints. Take it from me, they are Heaven compared to American health insurance. Getting ready to re-apply for that. Lucky me. It's going to be REAL fun documenting every hospital visit and doctor our entire family has visited since birth in hopes we'll achieve the privilege of paying $$$ per month--when you know, the whole time, that if push comes to shove and you actually need their coverage, they'll come up with some excuse not to pay for it.

Sanitas, bless their heart keeps calling me to schedule twelve year-old daughter's free "full-health assessment" with a team of specialists. Unfortunately, all I can handle, given her and her brothers long school days and busy after school schedule is the one well-child pediatric vist a year, unless they get sick.

Not only that, Sanitas' pediatricians have also given me "fichas" for full cardiology work-up to check out the heart murmurs, possessed by three out of my four children. I've had a heart murmur my entire life. I'm forty years old and unless I drop dead of a heart-attack tomorrow, it hasn't affected me in the least. My American doctors have never been concerned about my heart murmur; nor have my children's American pediatricians ever mentioned the need to see a specialist, but now I have a new possibility to obsess over.

Daughter's music teacher at the Conservatory is on my case to take her to a "foniatra" because she has a hoarse voice and can't reach certain notes. I had to look this up. It is some sort of speech therapist, but not the kind you need for a stutter or serious problems. I took her to the Otorino-thingummy specialist last year and all she has are nodes on her vocal chords. They told me it's completely benign, like having callouses on your hands. She's had this since she learned to talk; it has something to do with not projecting her voice properly. If she had ANY problem communicating, I would not be getting reports from half her teachers complaining that she talks TOO MUCH --"very melodramatic child," "needs to make her self noticed in class." Give me a break, she's not going to be an opera singer. How in the hell am I supposed to find time for an aesthetic voice specialist for a child who gets home from school at 5:45, spends 11 hours a week at the Conservatory and gets home at 10pm three nights a week? And no, she doesn't do this because I'm a Tiger Mother or Black Swan smother mother...I'm far too lazy for that, she does it because she wants to...and, now, she's asking to see the "foniatra."

I'm sure an "executive function" coach (or God forbid, Adderol or Ritalin--because it would be so much simpler if there were a pill to "solve" these issues) could help one of the boys with his "focusing" and "organization" issues that cause him to "not perform to his potential." Other twin, seems to get overly "emotionally upset" when confronted with hard challenges and failure--no doubt there's some strategy that could help him. Oh, and my five-year old son hit a girl in class this week. Not only that, he refused to participate in a writing assignment, describing how he felt about the Cosmo Caixa field trip. I asked him about his and he said that he simply "didn't have anything to say."

No doubt this stress is impacting our kids. Half the American moms I know have kids who are "on the spectrum," have dyslexia or ADD. In addition to dubious "executive function," welcome to the world of children with phantom coughs and other tics. You'd think my kids would develop a tic where they could at least get some medical sympathy or helpful drugs. Nope, they develop stealth tics, preferably when they and I are exhausted with their homework. This week, one of the twins decided he couldn't go for one minute without burping...

Meanwhile the diagnosis we'd all love to be getting is "Higher Ivy Potential!" "Gifted and Talented!" "Not sufficiently challenged by their current academic environment!"

3 comments:

kholy said...

I am from Egypt and I can feel every word you say, here in Egypt we are following a similar life style plus an added new financial pressure as the schooling/university costs are not proportional at all with the income of above average Egyptian family, traffic is horrible and society pushes parents to send their kids to the "best" school, which is usually something like 20-30 KM further from home and takes an extra hour in school bus and something like $ 2-3K more than the "average" school near home

Nathalie said...

Hi Kholy, I am so sorry you have to go through the same pain, although some times it is reassuring to hear that we are not alone...In America, public school may or may not be good according to where you live. There is no real nationalized school system the way they have in countries like England, France or Germany, it's all run by state, city or county. Often you may have to live in a very expensive neighborhood to get good public schools, sometimes not. Or you may leave in an expensive neighborhood with high property taxes (which go to support the local public schools) and have terrible public schools...so you are not guaranteed quality public schools even if you are paying for it with your property taxes. In Madrid, we have the same issue with many of the good private schools being outside the city. Traffic is only bad at rush hour, but still, what is 30km and half an hour trip with no traffic, turns out to be a 1 hour school bus route each way for the children...

Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago a grade school teacher called into her classroom to discuss my daughter. She said she was having a problem with my daughter. She was talking too much in class. I said to the teacher, "what do you want me to do about it? It's your classroom." Story over.