Aug 19, 2013 1 Share

Parental Anxiety

Black and white illustration of woman's face with arrows around it.

Cameron’s final year of high school begins in a week and I’m finding myself in a bit of a panic. Not because of the coming school year, but because of what comes after it. I realize this fear of the unknown is a recurring theme in my columns, but this time I mean it. I’m really starting to freak out. Cameron’s exposure to the community college classroom via his driver’s training course was not a resounding academic success. Cameron’s employment experience outside of his beloved Angelico Pizzeria was also not so successful. What I find most concerning about my panic level is that I’ve always considered Cameron ahead of the game in comparison to many of his peers. I’m not aware of any of Cameron’s classmates that have maintained paid employment and attended a course at community college prior to graduation. So if Cameron is ahead of his peers, why do I feel at such a loss as to where he’ll go from here? As Cameron is repeating his senior year in high school, many of the parents I befriended over the years now have children who are recent high school graduates. I don’t recall any of my friends having the wild-eyed look on their faces I now see in the mirror, nor do I recall them clutching their stomachs from the burning feeling of despair. How did they hold it together so well? What did they know that I don’t?

I’m back to my obsession of surfing the internet in hopes of finding some solution for postsecondary education. I’m having a hard time keeping myself grounded. I’ve written before about the allure of programs’ websites and how the reality of a program can be completely different from the emotional appeal of an expertly crafted online marketing pitch. But I’ve found a program’s website that’s really appealing. And the 40-page application with four recommendations and updated testing results are due by the 31st of October. Never mind the fact that I’ve never set foot on the campus, nor know anything about the program that’s not on the website. This is the place for Cameron, and I’ve got to get him in!

As I look through the lengthy application, I begin to strategize my parent assessment answers. I find myself wondering what answers the admissions team is looking for, and how can I make sure I present Cameron as a highly qualified candidate? Wait a minute … Did I just write that? Am I really more concerned with the answer they’re looking for as opposed to the answer that truly represents Cameron? The ideal candidate for this program may be a completely different student type than Cameron. Maybe I should take a few deep breaths. But what if there’s another ideal program out there with an October 31st deadline, and I miss the deadline? What else might I overlook? Really … deep breaths.

My postsecondary preparation To-Do list is growing, right alongside my anxiety. I need to look into revised testing, check in with Cameron’s Voc Rehab agent, acquire the necessary recommendations, and get in touch with as many folks as possible that have been here and done this. Maybe I should also peruse the self-help aisle at the book store, and flip through a few books on anxiety-reducing techniques!

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I feel your pain!

JulieThanks so much for your columns!  My son just turned 17, is about to start his junior year and I am already in the panic you describe.  Next year I'll be over the edge!  Looking forward to your future columns!