Struggling in “Achievementland”

Lets start with the admission, like at the beginning of an alcoholics anonymous meeting. Here it is: I am a struggling parent living in Achievementland (a.k.a. Davis). “Tell me more” you say.  Well, I thought last year was hard…I thought it could only get better. But this year is hard too! I am not saying this year is all bad, nor was last year. I know I am blessed – I have a close-knit family. My kids feel loved, they love spending time together, and I love spending time with them. We got used to a lot of together time last year. It is the externals coming in and throwing a wrench in it right now. Activities are hard. We now have 5 kids with activities, and…it is a lot. But that isn’t really what I am struggling with…

School. It feels like it has changed. Covid ruined it! [Mini rant]. Hopefully not permanently [effort at optimism…].

OK, maybe Davis ruined it before that, at least at the high school level where there is so much crazy pressure…I am new to it and, wow….  Are any other parents wondering how we ever got straight A’s?

But I also feel like Covid has affected how school is done for elementary school aged kids. It feels like stratification in the class is more evident than ever. Some kids openly talk about how advanced they are, making the kids who aren’t feel worse. So much is still on computers: sitting in the class, yes, but doing many assignments on the computer… (i-Ready’s personalized programming sounds good, but I am concerned about a lot of math being done on a computer and I don’t want my child to feel like she is behind other kids because she doesn’t “get through it” as fast). My child, who I protected from it all by homeschooling last year (focusing on normal things like “math on paper worksheets” and “writing in a journal with a pencil”), goes through emotional ups and downs, often feeling behind because she isn’t as tech-savvy, and can’t navigate all the tabs and assignments as quickly as the other kids. While we did do some typing last year, she can’t type fast. I feel like I didn’t prepare her well enough, even though I helped her gain confidence in reading and math, and improved her ability to write (she even learned cursive!).  My heart is weary, and I hate seeing my children experiencing stress! I love and respect teachers and know they are working hard (all my kids have some excellent teachers), and I know teachers are facing so many pressures and expectations that they neither chose nor designed… Yet I am concerned about school remaining screen-driven. It will change the pace, the feeling of calm, and will increase the comparison if we aren’t careful…

I am experiencing stress partly because I don’t feel like I have the bandwidth, with my job and many things I am juggling, to keep track of everything my children are doing in school. I am also struggling with the fact that I can’t fix it—I can’t homeschool right now because of my job responsibilities; I can’t make the stress go away!  I can say I love my children and that I am for them—and I am saying that every day—but I am a little concerned about how to just “get used to this” feeling of school pressure and stress for the next 12+ years that I will still have at least one child in Davis schools.

Lord, I need you! I know you are bigger than all of this [turning to prayer, which for me is not just a desperation thing, but a daily life thing…].

I want to help my children know that their value is not in their “output,” but in the fact that they are precious children, created by and loved by a compassionate, personal, caring God. I want them to learn to work diligently and hard, but to rest in the unconditional love that their parents have for them—even though we live it out imperfectly—so that they can be confident that someone is always “for” them. Health (physical, spiritual, emotional) is more important than grades, and positive relationships and play time are critical for health.  Yet it feels like swimming against the current to live with such priorities because they aren’t “resume builders.” 

I must remind myself and my children that the LORD’s way is different, and good. Psalm 18:27-28 say “For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.”

The result of creative play time

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