Jealous of other kids?

by Denver Dad

Do you ever get jealous of other kids? I’ve mentioned quite a few times that DD plays softball and I’m one of the coaches. She loves playing, but she is just not an athlete. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few girls who came in with little or no experience and pick it up so quickly. I can’t help feeling a bit jealous when I see them in comparison to DD.

Advertisements

212 thoughts on “Jealous of other kids?

  1. Yes. My boys fight frequently and everything is a competition. Mr WCE and my Dad were both one of three boys so both view the situation as somewhat normal. It still bothers me and I end up enforcing the level of order we have in our house because I lose the game of chicken with Mr WCE (i.e. he’s willing to ignore more than I am). Twin1 fell and chipped his permanent tooth in an altercation yesterday.

  2. Yep!

    DD had a difficult birth, including the cord wrapped around her neck twice, dropping heartbeat, vacuum, forceps, and a low initial Apgar (basically, everything but the emergency c-section, because she was too far down by the time she ran into trouble). So I can’t help but wonder whether her ADHD may be in part attributed to some minor oxygen deprivation at birth. And the further we go in school, the more it is apparent that her tendency to miss like one word of every 10 is hurting her.

    So when I see this one girl in her class who is quiet and well-behaved and working a grade ahead of everyone else, well, I wonder if that’s who DD was supposed to have been.

    Then again, if I had two kids like DS, life would be really boring. I guess I’m used to the relative chaos now, because the house seems really quiet whenever she’s out of town. :-)

  3. I know in the grand scheme of things how lucky I am to have two kick-ass kids who, despite a few issues here and there, are medically/physically healthy, generally well-behaved, and fun to have around. And I realize we only see the public side of other kids. But when I see a kid posting on nextdoor looking for lawnmowing customers, I can’t help but wish my kids would take the initiative to do something like that. Or the kids who willing spend the time practicing an instrument, etc.

  4. Not yet since my two are still so little but I anticipate I would. I am very competitive by nature unlike DH (hence teaching) and I imagine they will have more of his laid back traits than I would like. I hope they pick up some of his emotional intelligence along with the rest.

  5. Of course. One of my is a strong introvert who loves to be home. Now that school is out, I see kids all over the neighborhood with fishing poles attached to their bikes, out getting ice cream, heading to the pool, etc. I wish I could get mine out of the house for that outside, unstructured, roaming type of activity. But he’s so happy to be home. AND, in the 2 weeks school has been out, he’s read 7 books for pure pleasure. I know other parents look at him and wish their kids would read more like he does…

  6. Probably. Not athletically…all my kids are/were successful at whatever sports they take/took up. DS1 could seriously gone much farther than he did with one of his, but he just didn’t want to work that hard.
    Academically, yes, wrt effort expended. Other parents don’t seem to have the kids we have based on the names shown on the honor rolls each marking period. No developmental issues for any of them, except for the (stereo)typical boy assessment refrain “he has the ability, but he’s not putting in the work”. DS1, discussed here ongoing, clearly just gave it up when he got to college. Maybe, honestly, in HS, too. Now he seems to be ok. DSs 2 & 3: if both had just been more diligent in the first couple of years of HS their resulting grades and test scores would have been higher, perhaps meaning they could each have gotten into “better” colleges, but more tangible/meaningful to me would have been their merit aid coulda/woulda been ~50% of tuition vs ~1/3. DS2 certainly has had a laser focus on academics thru the first 3 years; we’ll see about DS3. Needing to deliver a 3.0 to keep his merit money may be enough of a kick in the pants.
    Socially, I wish DS1 and DS3 had larger circles of actual friends thru HS, not just the crowd who e.g. goes to all the grad parties. Jealous is the wrong word, but I’m happy for DS2 that he did/does.

  7. No. And I had one kid who was nothin but trouble for 25 years and one who died. I now have 4 who are doing fine overall but not at totebag realize your full potential, which is the same that can be said of their parents, male grandparent, and aunts. Of course, all of my kids are smart/high bandwidth in Rhett’s terminology, and two are surprisingly socially adept for their lineage, and I worked it out with DS and DIL to end up with unlimited contact with grandchildren.

    I do however say that in the hands on kid years I was often envious of other adults who had the emotional and financial wherewithal to deal more effectively or at least have more options in dealing with the range of challenges and opportunities presented by the children they got. As for the people who appeared to have nothing but smooth sailing throughout their lives, I was bemused at how they ever developed internally – I bought 100% into the view that struggle is good for the spirit (or a fully realized personality.) But that could just be envy, too.

  8. Only really in the “take initiative” area. Spent the last hour with DD#1 updating her Naviance account so that it is current when her teachers access it this summer to write her letters. I did this because (1) she told me it was done and fine when it wasn’t and (2) she gets upset when people get recognition for things they barely did, but she is not willing to put things on their that she did and worked hard on.

    We just had one of those “hard” talks about if you don’t write things down about yourself, you can’t expect others to remember it about you. I gave her a couple of examples from the past that made her mad including – a former class mate was part of a group that did a project, but was the only one that listed it on a form and therefore was the only one recognized. To add insult to injury, the summary of the project at the ceremony never mentioned it was a group project, so it looked like it was done solo.

    Rant over….and, yes, I know I should be pulling back in this area more. I think that example stoked a bit of fire under her though.

  9. Oh yes, I absolutely am jealous of other kids – the one who are the height my middle kid should have been, the ones who don’t wear hearing aids, the ones who don’t have weird messed up teeth, the ones who are polite to him but never invite him to do anything…

  10. Austin – good luck on “pulling back … more.” I’ve managed to do it for DS1 since he’s (a) out of the house so the temptation to say something “nagging” doesn’t present itself all the time and (b) he now seems to have gotten his shit together. DS2 is like me, makes/has a plan, executes successfully, informs after the fact, so there’s no temptation to inspect. DS3 is cut from his oldest brother’s cloth, but he knows if he quite literally makes the grade beginning with the first semester my questions about school will be of the “how’s is going?” nature.

  11. Yup. I see others with more ‘fire in the belly’ when compared with #1 child, particularly with performing, and realize that this is how stage parents are formed. I do a good job of not saying anything and asking open-ended questions instead, but it is HARD to see your kid not put in the effort to be the best kid in the class/show when you know they could!

    More often, I compare the kids unfavorably with how precocious DH and I both were at whatever age. Like when my parents sent me and DH the report of my standardized test scores at age 8. DH is really good about reminding me that we want the kids to be kind and good people, but sometimes I wish that we had an academic superstar or 3.

  12. Nah. We’re just talking about trading imperfections here. My kids might not have the initiative that other kids have, but those other kids don’t have the sense of humor mine have, or they aren’t as considerate.

    DH and I have had a running joke for some years, where we see some crazily accomplished kid and then say to each other, “Our kids are duds.” But it’s total joking – I wouldn’t trade my duds for anything. I’d like to think they feel the same way about their dud mummy.

  13. I guess I don’t understand the question. Would I prefer that my kids had no issues? Of course. Or that their social Q baselines were higher? Where needed. And when they were under 22, that they were more diligent or focussed about the details that mattered to me. Sure. But most people, including totebaggers, wouldn’t be jealous of what my kids have in overabundance because they don’t think that there is incremental value moving up that high on the bell curve. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So I can’t remember ever looking at a particular kid and thinking, I want what that kid has for one of my kids. What his parents have, absolutely.

  14. OTOH, I do also look at other kids (particularly one niece/nephew) and feel *really glad* that our kids are not like them! (whiny, complainy, entitled, and pushy)

  15. @ Meme, I took the question to mean, do you ever have those flashes of jealousy (or wistfulness) that some things appear so much easier for other kids than yours. I didn’t take it to mean would you fundamentally change something about your kids

  16. Meme – I didn’t take the question that way. I took it more as to when you see “X” in other kids do you feel jealous. And, in one area, I find that to be true for me. Maybe it is because it is what makes me the most nuts at this stage in life.

  17. No. It’s not that my kids are perfect (far from it) but I’m so grateful that they are healthy, have friends and are doing well in school. It would be nice if DD would share a little bit more about her life, feelings, etc. – but she’s a lot like me so I can’t really complain.

    My mom’s last meaningful exchange with me before she died was when she said she wished that I had been more artistic because then maybe we would have been closer. Ouch. It always bothered me that she couldn’t appreciate the relationship that we did have and love me for who I am and instead focused on the fact that we didn’t have some stereotypical chatty mother-daughter relationship.

    I have vowed that I will do my best to appreciate my kids for exactly who they are and not spend time wishing they were different (and as I said, my kids are both healthy – if they had a serious illness, disability, social problems, then I certainly would be wishing I could lighten their load).

  18. Fred – DS was commenting that one of his friends was getting a reward because he’d pulled his grades up to all A’s. DS wondered if he would get a reward since he already had all A’s (he’s in 6th grade so he doesn’t have to put in much effort to get an A). I told DS that his “reward” was that I didn’t nag him about his homework, bug him about his grades, etc. He could see the value in that :-)

  19. I am jealous every Holiday season when I see all these families who have children who have not just stayed still for the family photo, but who have all actually smiled — at the same time — for the camera (and smiled a real smile — not a goofy smile, or an ironic smile, or a crazed-looking smile). I am 13+ years into parenting, and I am still waiting for us to have a perfect family photo to hang on the wall.

    I cannot tell you how much my standards for what I want my kids to be have dropped since I actually became a parent. Before I had kids, I wanted my (then-imaginary) kids to be superstars! Now, I will be totally tickled if they make it to adulthood (1) without any addictions to alcohol or drugs, (2) without any unplanned pregnancies, and (3) with their mental health intact. If we can manage that, I’ll call it a win, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be jealous of the kids who did end up being superstars.

  20. Also, I don’t mean to be preachy in my 11:04 comment. If my kids were struggling, I absolutely would feel wistful or jealous that other kids have it easier. My kids are very lucky (healthy, have friends – and social stuff might have been more of a challenge for DS but he was able to switch to a school full of quirky kids where he fit right in).

    I will say I know DH wishes that DD had more competitive fire when it comes to soccer. She’s a very good player – but she lacks the drive to want to be the absolute best player. Which is fine with me (she’s way more athletic than I am). But DH sees all the opportunities she has soccer-wise that weren’t available when he was a kid and is a bit envious.

  21. Sorry, early hijack because this is time sensitive. DS1 has a appt with his guidance counselor to go over courses for next year. He is not currently in AP or honors English or history. Next year, he wants to try one of those. He is registered fro AP Government. I think he should take AP English to get out of the dreaded college comp course (he is an excellent writer already, and remember, I am familiar with college writing standards). I do, however, notice that since he is a senior, it would be AP ENlgish Lit, not the AP Language which seems more in line with college comp. Is that an issue? Since I am stressing that this would get him out of college comp, I would hate for that not to be the case. Back in my day ™, we didn’t have these distinctions in AP English. Also, it looks to me like AP Government aligns with the typical Intro to US Political System course that many universities have. Usually that is one of a million ways kids can satisfy their social science distro requirement, so I told him he doesn’t gain as much with AP Government, because he could in theory take a more interesting course to satisty the social science requirement once he is at a university. Am I giving him good advice or not? I don’t want to mess him up.

  22. “I took the question to mean, do you ever have those flashes of jealousy (or wistfulness) that some things appear so much easier for other kids than yours.”

    That’s how I took it too. And yes – absolutely here & there. At the end of year show, I was stunned by how mature, intelligent & poised one girl in DS’s class has become. I’ve known her since she was 2. She is a fantastic kid. And has some strengths that DS lacks. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a slight twinge of jealousy there.

    Same with the girl at his guitar recital who obviously has a ton of natural talent. (DS is pretty average, musically-speaking.)

    But of course that is not to say that I don’t love DS as he is or feel lucky or any of those things. Or that I dwell on it beyond the passing thought.

    Like someone else said – there are actually many, many more times that I am utterly thankful that some other kid is NOT my kid or that my kid does NOT have the qualities that I see in someone else.

    @NOB – laughing about the photo. I know exactly what you mean. And I only have one!

  23. I think that exact phrase “jealous of other kids” is what made me react the way I have. I took it very literally, perhaps channeling Finn here. I wanted better and easier for my children. But any envious thoughts would never be directed at the kid. Why would I be jealous of kid A because he wasn’t dead or in special needs limbo? Or even jealous of kid A on behalf of my kid X? I was certainly jealous that another family had it easier, or that other parents didn’t have to spend so much time or energy or funds on the problems I had to deal with. That was about me. And I often felt it when my kid experienced systemic or social unfairness. But none of it was specific to other kids.

  24. When I was a wee freshman (with a 5 on the AP English exam), I nearly tested out of the Pan-University Intro Writing Course. We had a blue book placement exam, and you had to get 2/2 reviewers to pass you out of the course, I got 1/2. The tragedy! However, I think I gained a lot from my writing course – it was well taught, and indoctrinated me into The Way We Do Things Here. I think I may have had more success in subsequent humanities courses due to that. Also, as an entering student, it wasn’t a terrifically hard course. I was also asked to tutor in the University Writing Center, based on my relationship with the prof. Which is a very braggy way of saying that I don’t think that getting out of English Comp should be the most important goal. Are his leading university choices even going to accept AP credit for that course?

    I would encourage him to take an AP humanities course that he will be successful in. The one that he chooses and finds the most interesting is the one more likely to be successful.

  25. “I am jealous every Holiday season when I see all these families who have children who have not just stayed still for the family photo, but who have all actually smiled — at the same time — for the camera (and smiled a real smile — not a goofy smile, or an ironic smile, or a crazed-looking smile). I am 13+ years into parenting, and I am still waiting for us to have a perfect family photo to hang on the wall.”

    And this is, fundamentally, why I will never have a “normal” family. Because I really, really love the goofy pics, much more than the normal ones where everyone matches and behaves appropriately. :-)

    Thinking a little more, the biggest compare/contrast I am dealing with right now is between DD and DS — he is getting old enough to start having his own “things” and his own accomplishments, and things just come easy to him, and it is just so clear that he is Laura Jr. (except with an unexplainable streak of optimism and a natural athleticism that makes him look good even when he’s messing up). As a result, I just know how to parent him more intuitively, and I am confident in his academics and his future job potential and that in the end he will be happy, because he is interested in so many things and throws himself into them and basically naturally does the things that lead to success and contentment. And DD is so different, and not as intuitively smart/academically inclined (though she still does fine), and she hasn’t really hooked onto anything that she finds interesting enough to throw herself into yet, and has this edge of chronic discontent, so it is harder for me to turn off the mom worry about what she is going to do and how she is going to build a life that makes her happy.

    But more like Meme said, it’s not that I want her to be more like him — it’s more that *I* want better parenting skills to be able to meet her needs — I am just much more conscious, every day, of feeling my way with her, because she is so different from me, and I worry about her finding a good path because it will be different from the one I know.

  26. I’m covetous of the perfect looking children at the play ground – hair combed and shiny, clothes clean and unstained and MATCHING, adorable shoes and all over sparkly. I realize that presentation is as much about the parents as it is about the kids. I supply the charming clothes and regular hygiene routine, however we still seem to show up with breakfast on the clothes, the scuffy shoes that are falling apart, mussed hair. It’s totally shallow.

    Along those lines, we will go to Japan this summer with perfectly matched clothes (no favorite pilly leggings for you my dear!). I imagine people will be more forgiving towards my rambunctious monsters if they look adorable. I was joking with a Japanese friend that I was going to shop the after-fourth of July sales and buy nothing but flag-themed clothes, and she was kind of horrified.

  27. Meme, I do feel jealous that my kid (the middle one), through no fault of his own, has a much tougher path ahead of him than he should have had. As you said, I want it easier and better for him. But that has nothing to do with me or my ability to parent. And it isn’t my kid’s fault either. It has to do with a random twist of fate.
    When we got together with the teen survivors last summer, I heard every parent there say pretty much the same thing: it isn’t fair that our kids suffered so much when little, and are still paying for it. Yes, we all said, we know, we were the lucky ones – we still have our kids. But we are still jealous – not in an all-consuming way, but it is there.

  28. Rhett, because it is a dreadful course for someone who can already write. I did place out of it and was darn glad. It meant I could take more interesting English classes.

  29. MM – Your advice may be good or bad because it depends on the college. You said the other day that you all went a visited a few colleges. Go to their websites and most of them will tell you what course(s) at that school you will get credit for. Most schools it depends on your score, some give credit only for 5 (MIT), some give the same credit for 4 or 5, while others give more credit as your score increases (TAMU for Spanish – 3 = 1 semester, 4 = 2 semesters and 5= 3 semesters). Some school apply AP credit to “required” courses, some will take it for a required or an elective (for example you took AB Calc and got a 4, but you would still prefer to retake Calc at that school, you can apply it as an elective), and some only take it for an elective credit.

    This is what we have seen when we were looking.

  30. Yes this:

    @ Meme, I took the question to mean, do you ever have those flashes of jealousy (or wistfulness) that some things appear so much easier for other kids than yours. I didn’t take it to mean would you fundamentally change something about your kids

    And this:

    Meme – I didn’t take the question that way. I took it more as to when you see “X” in other kids do you feel jealous. And, in one area, I find that to be true for me. Maybe it is because it is what makes me the most nuts at this stage in life.

    I used sports as an example, but things like watching the kid doing the violin solo while yours is struggling to stay in the 5th chair, or the kid who has the lead in the school show while yours is in the ensemble, or other examples people have mentioned here.

    Of course none of us would trade our kids for any other ones, because they are all totally awesome in their own ways. Risley make that “duds” comment a while back, and that’s what I’m talking about.

    To continue my DD’s softball story. She’s been emailing the HS school coach trying to decide if she wants to go out for the HS team this fall. He asked for her current schedule to see if he could come watch a game. He said he is going to try to come to Friday’s game because her classmate A is on the other team, so he can see them both play. A is really good and probably has a good shot at making varsity. DD will probably have to work hard just to get playing time on JV. I can’t help feeling a bit jealous that A will probably really impress him while DD will leave the impression of “she needs a lot of work.”

  31. Mooshi, I was going to say the same as Austin – check the colleges he is interested in.

  32. AustinMom, yes, we were just doing this. StonyBrook gives credit for the AP ENglish Lit test with a 3 or better, for a Intro English Lit course, and they also waive the comp course. The AP Government aligns with a US Politics course which is on the list of many that could be used to satisfy social science. That is also true at NJIT,but they need a 4 to get credit, and it isn’t clear if they waive comp if the student did AP Lit. Albany gives no credit for AP Government, and they do not let anyone out of comp – even kids with 5’s on the AP, or who did a college level course in HS, or even are trying to transfer the course from another school. They are like the Comp-Nazis, I guess. Haven’t checked other places.

  33. we didn’t have these distinctions in AP English

    Yes we did.

    My AP English Lit score got me out of freshman comp., although I think my Achievement (now SAT 2) score would have gotten me out anyway.

  34. MM – first on the English. Is there a reason he cannot take AP Language other than because he’s a senior? As much as schools hate exceptions, maybe there’s an opportunity for one in your kid’s case? If that fails, getting out of the Intro Lit reqt might serve him just as well come freshman year. Also, think about other ways he can get out of the English Comp reqt: a high enough score on the SAT Verbal and / or written (essay) depending on the college’s requirements; taking the intro Comp class at your local CC next summer (or even this summer since there’s a 5-week session starting June 26 at several locations throughout your county).

  35. A little more info: he has no particular interest in either course – he just felt he should have a humanities AP. I have no idea if they would let him take Language instead of Lit. His SAT verbal is high (770), but I haven’t seen any info on schools that would waive him out because of the SAT verbal. He didn’t take the SAT2 in English – took physics instead.

  36. Rhett, because it is a dreadful course for someone who can already write.

    Then it’s an easy A.

  37. I don’t understand why the school has any say in which AP exams he takes. Classes, yes; exams, no. Can’t he just sign up for the relevant exam (say, AP English Language) and take it?

  38. Look, I’m no saint. There were some days in the worst years when we were subject to household disruption and public shame that I had to confess silently my feelings that I have would have preferred the troublesome kid to be the one that had died. But I cannot at all identify with the examples mentioned in Denver Dad’s 11:35 post.

  39. he can still take the SAT2 for English on Aug 26, Oct 7 and other dates. As far as getting out of the class, he probably just has to prove his score and as long as he takes the test while in HS that’s fine. It may not be important as an admissions factor given the 770.

  40. Rhett, it isn’t an easy A for someone who has trouble managing numerous due dates and lots of paperwork. My husband, who is a good writer but who had to take it because AP English did not exist in his HS, said it was his nightmare course. He said it was the worst course he ever took in college, and the one that gave him the most anxiety because of the constant deadlines.

  41. MM – Before you make yourself too crazy looking at the different schools and the variations on the theme, decide what the overall purpose is. Our counselor gave us a few reasons to take AP classes:
    1. For college course credit if you score well enough.
    2. For your HS counselor to be able to say that the student’s curriculum had a higher (or the highest) rigor the school had to offer.
    3. To be better prepared for the college course, either because they don’t give credit or the student doesn’t feel strong enough in that area to take the credit.
    4. Because it is interesting.

    Fred – In our area, the state curriculum for juniors is fairly well aligned with AP Language and for seniors with AP Literature. If my DD had taken on level junior English, she could have taken AP Language as a senior, but would have had to also have taken senior on level or AP Literature to cover her senior requirment.

  42. Personally, I’d do AP Government. Because (a) either he knows how to write really well, in which case he will have a super-easy gut course, or (b) he doesn’t write as well as he thinks he does, in which case it will be useful information. And (c) there is no way that Intro to Generic Historical Era or History for Physicists in a giant lecture hall is going to be any more interesting.

    But in the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those weird liberal arts people who chose a school that required a Freshman writing seminar for everyone and that didn’t let you graduate if a prof did not sign off that you wrote well enough. And I deal with consultants and lawyers every. damn. day who write for a living and yet who could not write a clear sentence if their lives depended on it. And I hated social studies with an abiding passion and even dropped one course twice in college because it was so intolerable.

    Tl;dr: Most people can’t write for shit. And even those who can can learn something useful from an appropriately-taught college-level class.

  43. Every. Damn. Day. I see these 2 year olds who speak at age level, and interact with their world in an age-appropriate manner. And then I get my kid who pushes his classmates, doesn’t speak as well as he should, and and other things that are odd. Every time I’m at daycare or EI with him they find more and more things “wrong”.

    DH and I are both struggling with how to parent him. It would be easier for me if I could just leave him in a bubble and limit his interactions with the world, but how would he learn?

  44. One of my kids got sick this past quarter and had to miss a lot of school and activities. While not life threatening it threw us off and a gloom engulfed our house. We are still dealing with the issue.
    For the first time I had to talk to the school administration who were wonderfully supportive.
    Both my kids have their friends, do fine in school and are generally happy.
    They could be more competitive and more outspoken.
    I have been forced to be more reflective and just go back to the basics.

  45. “and the one that gave him the most anxiety because of the constant deadlines.”

    Really? We had a paper a week, and it was very easy to make shit up on a Thursday night to turn in Friday AM (because it was a “writing” class, not a “research” class).

  46. RMS – The only issue is that, at least here, your school has to register you for the AP test. So, if they won’t (because you didn’t take the class), that would be the problem. Why wouldn’t they you ask? Because on of the metrics they have to report is AP tests taken and AP tests passed. While some schools worry about this (typically those with pass rates of 80% and better), other schools (like one nearby with a 17% pass rate) don’t as they don’t even make a lot of effort to ensure the course comes close to preparing the kids.

  47. LfB, most schools offer a million ways to satisfy that history/SS requriement other than the generic Intro To History. In fact the AP Gov exam doesn’t even align with Intro to US History at the schools I checked, so if the school really wants kids to take that course, he would still have to take it.

    The way I see it, you only get a few slots in college where you can take interesting courses outside of your major. Why waste those slots on Intro to History (or comp if you don’t need it)?

  48. LfB said “Really? We had a paper a week, and it was very easy to make shit up on a Thursday night to turn in Friday AM (because it was a “writing” class, not a “research” class).”

    This. This is exactly what made my husband nuts. And worse yet, the way they teach the course now, you have to do constant drafts, so each week, you have a draft due and a final version of another paper due. This is exactly the kind of course that would trip up my kid.

  49. Hit send too soon…

    At the end of the day, he’s ours. And he’s cute and sweet. His good days are really good. His bad days are really tough. And I see him struggling with communication and understanding the world.

    God gave us him (and his brother). I don’t know why but I’m pretty sure (I hope…) DH and I have the ability to raise them into (hopefully) kind and gentle humans.

  50. Sometimes I wish my oldest was more into sports (was willing to practice outside of scheduled practice to get better) but she’s not. I suspect I feel that way because I was a super competitive kid as a child and loved sports. I was also very entrepreneurial (selling lemonade, bugs, painted rocks) but I think her life is just pretty comfortable and so she just doesn’t have that desire to earn money that I did. But mostly I feel grateful about my children because sometimes they seem to be the only kids around without some sort of issue (it sometimes feels like a lot of my friends’ kids are dealing with anxiety in ES which seems crazy).

    And what Ada said – my kids are never the clean ones at the playground with the perfect bows in their hair. They likely have stains on their clothes and sticky hair but changing them multiple times a day would result in more laundry than I want to do.

  51. the way they teach the course now, you have to do constant drafts, so each week

    Given your tendency to overgeneralize, is that truly the case at all/most schools these days?

  52. @Mooshi — Right. But it seems like you’re going to get stuck with one, if he can’t take both APs, so the question is which option is least sucky. Do those schools really offer interesting intro-level history classes that are open to kids just looking to check the box? IME most of the interesting stuff is upper-level, and you can’t take it until you’ve taken the intro-level prereqs. When I went, most of the folks who were just looking to check the box ended up in gut courses designed for them — e.g., Bio for Poets type stuff — and that seems even more of a waste of space than Freshman comp. But ITA, if there are interesting classes he would have access to, then it makes more sense to try to skip out of Freshman comp.

  53. Back to the jealousy topic. I have to admit, I get jealous when I see the other kids who seem to have no trouble managing all their assignments and deadlines, seemingly without breaking a sweat. It is such a struggle for my oldest.

    I don’t think I told this story. Last week, both kids had 5 page papers due. My middle kid knew about his, but procrastinated, so he was just starting on a Sunday night for a paper due on Tuesday. That was already pretty tight, since it was a research paper on a relatively hard topic. But my oldest had also been assigned a paper, a month earlier. He managed to produce an outline and a list of references, weeks ago, before totally forgetting about it. It was also due on the Tuesday. Now do you think the fact that his brother had a 5 page paper due might have rung a bell with him?? No, it didn’t!! We finally realized it at 8pm Monday night when I looked at his teacher’s website – she had just put up the submission link an hour earlier. So he frantically wrote until 2am. I did a quick readover the next morning to make sure it was coherent in some way, and thought it looked great. He submitted it through the link. He ended up getting a 100 on it. But if I hadn’t noticed that his teacher had put up a submission link the night before, he would have had a 0. Sigh, I wish he could be like the other kids in terms of organization.

  54. I don’t have jealousy so much as sadness for my oldest. My other two have had it so easy and I see the difference in how he struggles with certain things that likely resulted from being born almost 3 months early. The flip side of this is that it has been an incredible privilege to see him grow and accomplish things in a way that is different from my other two who kind of breeze through everything. And on most days I am just grateful that I ended up with 3 kids who are mostly typical and healthy (knock on wood), so any jealousy I might have gets squelched ASAP as not to anger the karma gods.

  55. Seattle – on your relationship with your mom – I hear ya. My sister texted me over the weekend “Mom suggested I use a better wrinkle cream”. That type of comment is so typical and why we are not very close.

    On kids – I fall into the “I wish I had better parenting skills for these particular snowflakes”. I do wish DS2 wasn’t borne with heart problems and had to take medicine that probably explains in part why he is the shortest in his grade. I wish DS1 wasn’t quite so quirky. And yet, that is them. And I love them.

  56. “MM – AP US History seems to align better with intro to history, just FYI.”

    US History is 11th grade in our district. He took the non AP version. At that time, he couldn’t qualify for any AP history.

  57. I’m not jealous of other kids as much as I’m jealous of other people’s parenting skills. My kids have very strong personalities. My oldest is strong-willed and loud about it – he’ll argue to the death, even if he knows he is wrong. My youngest is very strong-willed and quiet about it. He’ll agree with me but continue on his way. Thank goodness they love each other and are each other’s best friends. DH and I agreed that if they didn’t get along we’d each take one kid and live in separate houses. Four strong-willed people in the house can be intense at times.

    I spent all last week off due to no school and no daycare/camps available. Monday I had to go to the grocery store and the kids were bickering, which pushed me over the edge. We were in the car and I yelled at them to knock it off. My youngest smirked back at me, so I yelled that I would spank him until he cried if he didn’t stop. Pretty awesome parenting moment two hours in to my week of being home with them. I’ll turn in any Totebag credentials I had. I am jealous of other parents who are relaxed and who do all of the other parenting things right – like bathing their kids more than once a week or dressing them in cute, matching clothes or making awesome breakfasts and dinners.

  58. LfB – both DH and myself changed outwardly significantly in our late teens/early twenties, much to the surprise of family and friends.
    As DH said, “I didn’t win any awards till I was in my thirties”. So, in your DD’s case with your support she will find her own successful
    path.

  59. Because on of the metrics they have to report is AP tests taken and AP tests passed.

    Well that’s just a human rights violation. They should be able to take whatever tests they want.

  60. RMS – I don’t disagree with you, I was just stating the way the world works in my area. My DD#1 took a phyics test this year without taking the class on the teacher’s recommendation. We almost had a hiccup in getting her registered because she wasn’t in the class (teacher and AP test orderer hadn’t communicated).

    MM – US History is the junior level here too. We did some of this comparison back in March when DD#1 was signing up.

  61. tcmama said “I am jealous of other parents who are relaxed and who do all of the other parenting things right – like bathing their kids more than once a week or dressing them in cute, matching clothes or making awesome breakfasts and dinners.”

    Well, you won’t be jealous of me then, because we are fails at all of this.

    The Mormon family next door is perfection when it comes to all of this. The 3 girls (and another on the way) are in perfect clothes, with perfect outdoor birthday parties coordinated by a relaxed, happy mom. They say please and thank you, at least in the presence of adults, and go on fun outings with mom, and Mitt-Romney-lookalike dad always has a cheery hello for everyone waiting at the bus stop as he walks to the train. Bu then I remember that a) mom is in her 20’s with 3, soon to be 4 kids, and that is the role model for those 3 girls. And b) she has tons of support from the other Mormon moms in the area. And finally c) I have heard that oldest daughter is part of the Mean Girl clique at school, and the way she treats the other kids at the bus stop, I can believe that.

  62. My kids don’t do pictures that great. One relative hires a professional to do picture perfect Christmas card family picture. The same relative had her kids practice thank you speeches for an occasion. Her DD just refused to deliver her practiced thank you speech which made said relative furious. Both parents tried to get the kid to say her words while guests waited patiently.
    I wish I had the bandwidth, DH doesn’t care about such things so we don’t come across as the perfect family.

  63. I find myself feeling this way even within my own little family. My DS is on the spectrum, and while he’s smart and funny and overall doing great, a lot of things in have been more of a struggle for him. And then there is my DD – life just comes so easily to her. She’s smart and bubbly and happy and people are just naturally drawn to her. My kids are still little enough that they don’t see the differences yet, and I know both are #blessed in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes it just seems unfair that one got dealt a much easier hand than the other.

  64. “The way I see it, you only get a few slots in college where you can take interesting courses outside of your major.”

    That really depends on the school, and the major. And, for some kids, what you describe is a feature rather than a bug.

    You are probably spending far more time on the AP course selection than it deserves. Austin Mom gave some good advice. And consider that you probably know which teachers will be teaching these courses. Some are better than others for a kid like your DS. This will be his last year at home — why not help him choose a class that interests him, taught by someone who will provide a good experience and not too much busy work.

  65. “Bu then I remember that a) mom is in her 20’s with 3, soon to be 4 kids, and that is the role model for those 3 girls.”

    Why is that a problem?

  66. “like bathing their kids more than once a week ”

    I now hand in any parenting skills I had. A routine conversation starts with “when was the last time the kids had a bath?” and is answered with “I don’t know, so they should probably bathed.” And I can’t even blame having 2 kids on that one, I was like that when DS1 was a baby.

    Our goals for any given day are to have relatively clean clothes, eat food, and get from the beginning of the day to the end of the day without hospital visits.

  67. Why is that a problem?

    I’ll bite: I would not try to dissuade any of my children if they chose to be a stay at home parent. My feminism means that everyone should choose their own path and feel supported doing so. However, I pity children who are raised in an environment where they feel they don’t have choices (either to be a financial provider for a family, or to be single and childfree, or to stay home with the children.) My experience with the LDS is that they inculcate expectations in their children. Very few LDS women are professionals or have careers.

    I also pity the guy in the medical specialty facebook group I watch. He is having some public meltdown about his ex suing for child support and alimony and taking all his money. He keeps harping on how is new wife will be leaving him because he can’t adequately provide for her the way he promised when they got married. It’s too bad his relationship is so transactional – and I wouldn’t want that burden on my children either.

  68. When my oldest was about 16 he had a friend, 15 yo at the time, who explained to me his strategy on how to garner the maximum number of school awards/honors in the most efficient manner. So, for example, his bio class had too many contenders for the top bio award but in his Spanish class he had fewer competitors. Thus he was going to put in more effort in Spanish class because his odds were better there. He gave a few other examples. My kid was clueless about these types of strategizing, and I felt a twinge of jealousy.

    Fast forward about ten years and I hear my kid talk about how he makes sure his boss know about his accomplishments and he assertively asks for (and receives) promotions. I notice he’s figured out how to work from home some days even though it’s not really a company-approved policy. Things seemed to have worked out all right.

    “Now, I will be totally tickled if they make it to adulthood (1) without any addictions to alcohol or drugs, (2) without any unplanned pregnancies, and (3) with their mental health intact.” — Yes to this!!!

  69. In the midst of kid illness there was yep – placement for the Math track for next year. Kid had good grades up until the illness but I had to make sure that didn’t get lost because of spotty school attendance.

  70. “So he frantically wrote until 2am. I did a quick readover the next morning to make sure it was coherent in some way, and thought it looked great. He submitted it through the link. He ended up getting a 100 on it.”

    Writing a paper at the very last minute and getting 100? Now I’m jealous! :)

    Still, he may be able to learn something valuable from a freshman comp class. I don’t think they’re all horrible. And don’t be surprised if your son is one of only two or three boys in that AP lit class.

  71. Ada,
    I appreciate your explanation. I’ve had my own struggles with the decision to be a stay at home parent. But it just strikes me as bizarre to regard as a poor role model a woman who is cheerfully raising a large family at a young age, (apparently without seeking government assistance FWIW), instead of spending her 20’s pursuing a profession or postgraduate degree. I feel a lot sorrier for those kids in the WaPo article we discussed last week than those being raised by the cheerful Mormons. Or, for that matter the Mennonites I see around these parts, with the girls in bonnets and dreary long dresses. They always look pretty happy, even in the parking lot at Target.

  72. I feel the jealousy thing at times, especially with my son. He is not as athletic as the other two, and he is chronically ill. I keep trying to see the big picture….he is not as sick as some other children we know. We live in a developed country with access to medical care. One hundred years ago he would have died. He will be ok, I think. But it is hard to see other kids don’t have to remember their meds every day.

    I know everyone runs their own race and has to figure out and recognize their own victory, and part of being a grownup is recognizing that. Some days it is just hard to be a grownup.

  73. In the midst of kid illness there was yep – placement for the Math track for next year. Kid had good grades up until the illness but I had to make sure that didn’t get lost because of spotty school attendance.

    Louise, are you raising my son? The exact same thing happened to him.

  74. “I know everyone runs their own race and has to figure out and recognize their own victory, and part of being a grownup is recognizing that. Some days it is just hard to be a grownup.”

    Amen to that.

    ” I feel a lot sorrier for those kids in the WaPo article we discussed last week than those being raised by the cheerful Mormons.”

    I totally agree with that! And in the Mormon example, to me it is less about the cheerful mom as “role model” rather than just feeling sorry for the young girls for having some lack of choice in the path that they want to follow in their own future since it is somewhat dictated by the church/cultural norms. I do try to keep that in mind in parenting – making sure that DS knows that there are lots of different setups that work for different families besides the way we live.

  75. Do I wish life with/for my kid was different? Yes. Do I wish he was a different kid? Not on your life.

    Like Laura and Mooshi, I often wonder “what if”. There are times when I could’ve responded differently to large and small things beyond my control, and it’s all too easy for me to spend time thinking about them.

    Even though I wonder what his life would’ve been like without the obstacles and am so sorry for what he’s missing out on and for his struggles, when I hear people talk about their standard-issue kids, I’m not jealous. I don’t want to insult anyone, but bland/generic/robotic has never appealed to me. If he was different in ways that made life easier, we’d be missing out on a lot. He is like an Advent calendar for me, with little delights every day. He is funny, smart, sincere, tender, persistent, tenacious, and and physically perfect. He observes, learns, and cares deeply. Even when things are tough, I’m always discovering more cool & interesting things about him. He talked about dance lessons, of all things, for weeks until I signed him up. He could beat me at Scrabble when he was in fourth grade. He loves Harp Seals and little kids. I love these surprises in him. Over the past year, I have tried to make it clear to him that when I say (as I have for ages) that I’m a lucky mama, I really do mean it. His reply is that my parenting has shaped him into the person he is. He doesn’t mean it in a schmaltzy way–that’s how he genuinely sees it. And that makes my heart melt. He’s an awesome kid, far beyond what I deserve. I hope I can do right by him.

  76. When my oldest was about 16 he had a friend, 15 yo at the time, who explained to me his strategy on how to garner the maximum number of school awards/honors in the most efficient manner. So, for example, his bio class had too many contenders for the top bio award but in his Spanish class he had fewer competitors. Thus he was going to put in more effort in Spanish class because his odds were better there. He gave a few other examples. My kid was clueless about these types of strategizing, and I felt a twinge of jealousy.

    He mastered the big fish/little pond theory.

  77. Seattle, about your relationship with your mom, and how it’s influenced your approach to parenting–I can relate.

  78. About the SAHM – My grandfather was a WW 1 veteran. While he was not married until after the war, many of his friends were. Some of them didn’t come back. He watched several of the widows marry anyone who asked because they had no way to support themselves and their children. He pushed all his children, but especially his 3 daughters, to get a degree or a profession in which they could support themselves if marriage did not work out.

    I would say that sums up what I have told my girls being a SAHM is a fine thing. But, have enough education or a trade or a skill that is marketable and keep it marketable so that if you need to become the financial support of the family, you can. Around here, the youngest women with small children are often the least educated.

  79. The Spanish/science class awards are an example of the kind of strategy that doesn’t come easily to my kid or me, although he’s a bit more pragmatic that way than I am. I see that approach as a type of cynicism, and appreciate my kid’s sincerity and being straight-ahead rather than calculating. Might mean fewer rewards, but I don’t think those are as rewarding down the road as having striven hard in something you’re truly interested in.

  80. S&M, it depends on what your goal is in getting the rewards. If it is merely for the sense of accomplishment or pride, then it makes more sense to do it try to earn the ones that are truly meaningful to you even if they are harder to obtain. If your goal is to enhance your college application or resume, then it makes more sense to get a bunch of easier ones that you don’t care about as much.

  81. Laura, even with her insistence on that insane schedule for next year, she “hasn’t really hooked onto anything that she finds interesting enough to throw herself into yet, and has this edge of chronic discontent”? And could that discontent be the drive that pushes her up? I know you love her, and you’ve commented before on ADD similarities between you two, but sometimes I just don’t “get” your posts about her.

  82. Rhett, sometimes easy things are the hardest. I think MMDS1 is likely to have a hard time getting himself to do what he sees as silly little easy assignments, and to end up with a disappointing grade. Otoh, first semester English comp is always a huge course with tons of instructors. My undergrad school required two semesters of it; my enthusiasm and grades varied with how well the instructor and I clicked. If he does take it, shopping around for “his” instructor might be helpful.

    Piggy-backing on Mooshi’s question about APs: I generally hear them discussed as being for kids at the top of the class, with (near-) perfect grades. It seems to me that they are also good for the kind of bright student who does well on tests but has a hard time slogging through coursework. Even if their course grade isn’t very good; they will have that AP test score to improve the overall picture. Does that make sense?

  83. Scarlett,

    It would be more what happens to the “Rosemary Kennedy’s*” of the family. If one of the girls is a brilliant ambitious workaholic perfectionist with no patients or maternal instinct, are they going to encourage her to find a place in the world that suits her? Same for a kid who had a huge affinity for children who just wanted to be a SAHM to a big brood of children being pressured by another type of family into a professional track that doesn’t suit her.

    * to mean someone whose nature diverges greatly from how a family envisions itself.

  84. Mooshi re: your Mormon neighbor. Well I must be very tired or stressed, because I read that to mean 20 year old = lots of energy, at home = not juggling a career and home, 3 kids/role model = her only responsibility/job; lots of support from the community = how nice! Wish I had that!

    If I only had one responsibility and lots of support to do it, I’d do that thing really well too!

    In reality, if I were at home with 3-4 young kids, reliant on DH’s income, I’d be miserable and so would the kids.

    I think I need a vacation.

  85. DD, sure, more resume lines can get you into more places, but the results of that advanced project, even if there were others doing slightly better on similar things, can lead to a “next project” that you wouldn’t otherwise be ready for. So either you’re in a “better” program but have to go back and learn what you would have done if you’d followed your interests/abilities instead of the numbers, or you’re top dog at a not-quite-as-good program, ready to blaze ahead and will eventually compete with people from the other programs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; it’s a call that should be made individually, by paying attention to the traits of whoever is taking the courses. Fitting into the first scenario doesn’t make you better.

  86. Rhode, does the preschool see and appreciate his good sides too? Of course a kid should be corrected and given boundaries, but if he’s getting the message that he’s a crummy kid, he’s going to continue to seek attention because he hurts.

  87. My experience of the conservative families of my friends was that they had happy childhoods. The girls didn’t have the stress that their brothers did. Quite a few were naturally competitive and many went on to careers even though their mothers stayed home.
    I was jealous of them ! Their Mom’s were available and there if they faced a rough day at school, required any school item etc. In fact I decided to be more available for my kids based on what I saw in those families.

  88. I try my darnest to not be jealous, but I’m not necessary jealous that some kid has a natural talent or can read social cues, and thus, doesn’t get weird stares and eye rolls. I’m jealous of that parent who seems to have it easy, or least appears a great job of keeping her cool. That being said, when my DD was three, she was the size of an 18 month old, and had an amazing vocabulary and could speak in full and coherent sentences. Out in public I would overhear comments about how smart that toddler is, or people would comment on how easy it must be to have such a communicative child – no tantrums because I don’t understand what she wants. So I know that life is like an iceberg. The public is only seeing 10% of what is really going on. I try to keep it all in perspective.

  89. @SM: yeah, it’s hard to explain, but it’s really the disconnect between my experience and her personality. All I know is intellectual, driven — interested in stuff to the point that you do it because you want/need to figure it out. DS is that way, and his teachers see that and love him for it and encourage him, and it becomes a giant love-fest. And standardized tests are his superpower so far. So it’s easy to see him charting a path, because it’s the same general one I am familiar with — probably a very good college, likely grad school, then a career making cool stuff like his dad — even if the specific things that float his boat are different than mine.

    DD, man, is desperate to be the top kid (and so has signed up for all the hard classes, because That’s What You Do), but then she isn’t really that interested in putting in the work you need to to excel at any of them, and then gets overwhelmed and freaks out. She does the work because the work is expected, not because anything in particular interests her, or because she just wants to know it — and since I firmly believe that the harder you work, the smarter you get, her natural waterbug tendency (i.e., skate along the surface and dive only as deep as necessary to get by) holds her back. She’s smart enough that she will probably do just fine in terms of grades, but not wicked-smart top-college/scholarship fine. But far more important than that is that at a fundamental level she just really doesn’t like school, has no patience for abstract concepts or theory, just wants to go do stuff. And since I was basically all about theory and loved school and all that, I am sort of stumbling, because I don’t have experience with the path that works well with her interests — I sort of have to guess that engineering will be the best match, but it just makes me worry because she hasn’t really found her niche yet (whereas DS will just make a niche out of whatever is in front of him). So parenting her through HS feels like talking through my hat, because she is following the path that everyone around her is telling her to follow without knowing any better, and I am encouraging her in that path while having zero clue whether it is actually the best one for her. And I wish I knew more what would be best for her. [Then again, she is so focused on independence that maybe the best thing I can do for her is *not* act like I know what’s best for her]

    The “chronic discontent” goes to the “will they be happy?” Q. DS is the “there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere” kid, while DD can find the cloud in any silver lining. So I fret that no matter what she does, she will not be happy, because nothing will ever be good enough. Him, not so much.

  90. S&M, I didn’t say one was better than the other, just that they serve different purposes.

  91. Kerri, I laughed much too hard at your mom/sister comment. I hope you and your sister can be close. You seem to have a good relationship with your husband too, so you can lean into that, so the non-support from mom might not suck so much.

    Rhett, yes, the trend toads more drafts & crap is everywhere.

  92. S&M – Oh yes, my sister and I are pretty close and laugh together at our mom’s comments. We’ve had our ups and downs over the past year, but I do love my sis. She has a very funny, odd, delightful, silly sense of humor.

  93. In the past few weeks, some other parents made some comments that seemed to indicate that there might be some jealousy of all three of my kids. They are all accomplished young people, but they have really had to work for everything. They didn’t have a stay at home mom until a few years ago. The youngest had speech delays and health issues (continuing as it seems), and so his needs took priority. They are smart, but they’ve worked at school and everything else they’ve done. The middlest has generally had to make her own way, especially, because the youngest came along when she was still a baby, but she didn’t get to stay a baby, because there was a younger one.

    My SIL has a saying that going somewhere along the lines of “You can’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides” which I guess applies.

    So, on the flip side of the topic, do your kids ever seem the object of jealousy?

  94. And this is, fundamentally, why I will never have a “normal” family. Because I really, really love the goofy pics, much more than the normal ones where everyone matches and behaves appropriately. :-)

    I refuse to do the matchy-matchy family pics because it is so no us. Plus I’ve never liked the idea of taking pictures for the sake of taking pictures. I like to take pictures because we’re at someplace cool, or there’s something fun going on to try to capture, or to remember something we did or someplace. I find the idea of dressing up and going to a photo studio to be totally pointless, because again, that’s just not us.

  95. July, thanks for the second paragraph of your 1:03 comment.

    Scarlett, I often wonder what a Mennonite girl from my MS is doing. She was on the track team, wore denim gauchos for competition, doesn’t strike me as a natural SAHM. Then again, she may’ve gotten married and had kids young, and gotten involved in things as her kids grew.

    On cleanliness: DS took baths and showers with me for years. When that stopped, in early grade school years, showers usually happened but were sometimes contentious. These days, I tell him when he’s stinky & he may or may not shower. Totally not what you’d expect from his dislike as a little kid for splashing in mud puddles, etc. He loves little kids’ cute matching outfits, so it’s not like he doesn’t notice.

  96. Louise and Pseudo, mine too, a couple of times this year. And then got freaked out by Mount Make-up Work.

  97. I have often wished that 17 yo DS was more sociable. He has a small group of friends who never seem to go out, they cite “we see each other all day at school, that’s enough time together” as the reason. I’ve talked to their parents and these boys seem to be perfectly content hanging out at home or working on the weekends. They all participate in school EC’s or sports, and aren’t getting into any trouble at all. While we all feel blessed that we have good kids, we all worry that they might not fully integrate into college – fingers are crossed all around.

    For the time being I enjoy conversations with him and take great pleasure in knowing that he is a curious learner. We discuss topics that I suspect many teens would not enjoy. He is a geeky and funny kid who keeps up to date on politics and economics and I love our conversations. Would I trade that for him being popular and outgoing? No.

  98. Houston, that is also our advice to our college kids when selecting courses. In most degree programs at our university, students have many course choices in meeting their requirements. By focusing on the reputation of the prof instead of the actual subject of the course, they have had a good experience. “Take the professor, not the course” is right up there with “don’t major in anything that ends with ‘studies.’ ”

    Rhett, Rosemary Kennedy is actually a fascinating example. She clearly could not meet the family expectations, but her parents (despite their many faults) refused to follow the path of other wealthy parents and place her in an institution. Decades before the ADA, they made heroic efforts to meet her needs and to include her in family activities.

  99. Laura, ohhhh, now I get it. Thanks! Interestingly (to me anyway, maybe to you), my S is naturally like yours, but in the last few years, he’s felt the kind of demands your DD responds to and has just crumbled. If he could get back to doing it for the love of it, life would be so much better, but of course that’s not how school is set up. College would presumably let him stretch out in the sun like that, but he has to get through HS first :/ Last night we stayed up past our bedtimes and then started talking. He finally let me in on what’s going on with him and school, and asked me for answers, which are, of course, hard to give. I’ve been so worried for him, am glad to see he’s not giving up!

  100. Swim, our sons were the same way. But they had a good time in college and the two in the workforce are thriving. They are perfectly fine in social settings but have always preferred the company of people a bit older than themselves, and are fine staying home watching Netflix if the alternative is a drinking party. We were kind of lazy parents and didn’t make a lot of efforts to invite kids over for play dates. It’s hard to know whether we were being responsive to their inherent introversion or enhancing it.

  101. “don’t major in anything that ends with ‘studies.’ ”

    Heaven forbid you get involved in looking at the world from many different perspectives, using many tools, instead of specializing in the type of perspective that getting way, way into one tool can give you. 😱

  102. to get a degree or a profession in which they could support themselves if marriage did not work out.

    My mom maintained her teaching credential for decades, but when she finally went back to work, she wound up working for a couple of guys who evaluated educational research and projects. Much more suited to her temperament.

    One of my housemates was a double major in classics and computer science, and was preparing for grad school in classics. People used to say she could always fall back on computer science, and she would reply that that would be like falling back on a large, sharp stake.

  103. I love the matching family pics. And I was *amazed* by how well this past year’s came out, because the kids were seriously crying and fighting what seemed like the ENTIRE time. I would never have any nice pictures of myself otherwise, and I really like picking out the matching outfits, so that’s why we get them. :)

  104. “Rhode, does the preschool see and appreciate his good sides too? Of course a kid should be corrected and given boundaries, but if he’s getting the message that he’s a crummy kid, he’s going to continue to seek attention because he hurts.”

    S&M – oh yes. His teacher praises him for sitting in circle time, participating, and being kind. The whole school is based on positive re-enforcement. At home, we try to praise him more than scold him. I realized that early on – we were saying “no” so much that the poor kid might think his name is “no”. It’s just that once we get through one thing (sitting and waiting) we find more things (pushing).

  105. but her parents (despite their many faults) refused to follow the path of other wealthy parents and place her in an institution.

    Huh? They lobotomized her, put her in an institution and then didn’t visit her for 20 year.

  106. I agree 1000% with take the professor, not the course. This isn’t always possible when there is just one choice, but this advice works in college when there are generally many choices. I took three government classes in college because my friends outside of the business school raved about one professor. I managed to get into his introductory class, and I loved the material and his lectures. I did have to use most of my electives to keep taking his classes, but it was worth it. I also was able to add into a class during my senior year about the Soviet State. It was not a topic that I ever would have selected, but my friends couldn’t stop taking about the professor. They were right, and I learned so much about a subject that I really had no interest in before taking the class. I found out when the cold war ended, that the professor was a spy for the CIA. This job allowed him to travel between the USSR and the US during a time when there was almost no travel allowed by most people.

    It isn’t as easy to follow this advice in HS because colleges are looking for certain required courses, and sometimes there is only one teacher in a small school that teaches a course. A really bad teacher can ruin a junior or senior year in HS if you’re just picking the course vs. the teacher. For example, there is only one teacher for AP history in our school, and she is very tough. There is so much work that it has hurt some of the kids because they couldn’t get everything done in their other academic classes. My friends and their kids know what they are getting into before they register for certain teachers and classes. They try to balance the rest of their schedule to make sure that they can get the work done in all of their classes.

  107. The lobotomy was a disaster. But it came only after they had spent 20+ years trying to help her with the medical and educational resources then available. And the doctors were from top med centers. Not quacks. And Joe made that decision without consulting his wife.
    It was only at that point that they “put her away”. After Joe died the family resumed visits and her sister Eunice was especially devoted.
    They probably did the best they could at the time. Joe was a complicated person and his wife was even more complicated. And the family has certainly been a major player in programs for the developmentally disabled.

  108. Off topic, I dropped DD at the airport today. She’s bound for Madrid, then the south of Spain, where she’ll be an au pair to 3 kids for a little over 2 months. She has been an after-school nanny here this year, and the dad in Spain is best buds with the dad here. The dad here recommended DD for the job when his Spanish pal said he wanted an English-speaking au pair for the summer. DD knows “hola” (I think) and no other Spanish.

    She texted from the airport to say her flight to Chicago is delayed, so she’ll miss her connection to Madrid. But she had already talked to the gate agent and had them reroute her — now she’s going through Philly, and will land in Madrid 30 min later than her original ETA. She sent a note to the family there to let them know, and now she has some time to kill at her gate, which is fine with her.

    She had planned on missing her connection in Chicago anyway, b/c it was super tight even without issues on this end. She was prepared to spend hours at the airport there, maybe even stay overnight, until she could catch another flight to Madrid. Getting it out of the way on this end was a relief, I think. The kid is intrepid.

    When she gets home in August, she’ll have about 6 days before she leaves for college. So, today marks the end of an era at our place — DD is my last kid to fly the nest. We still have my youngest DSD every other week for the next year, but on alternate weeks, DH and I will now be empty nesters.

  109. I just learned a lot more about Rosemary Kennedy. I find this detail suspect, “During her birth, the doctor was not immediately available and the nurse ordered Rose Kennedy to keep her legs closed, forcing the baby’s head to stay in the birth canal for two hours. The action resulted in a harmful loss of oxygen.”

    I think the author of the above statement has never seen a birth. One cannot simply tell a woman who has had two children to simply keep her legs closed and wait two hours. The uterus is a pretty powerful muscle. Are all the women who have second and third babies in the car simply not trying hard enough to keep their knees together?

    Anyway, rubs me the wrong way because I think it is part of the narrative that all birth defects are caused by health care providers. Also, I think (but don’t know) that hypoxic birth injury is never associated with intellectual disability alone – only in the context of muscle abnormalities of cerebral palsy. A child with MR without characteristics of CP tends to not have a hypoxic birth experience, just unfortunate protoplasm.

  110. But she had already talked to the gate agent and had them reroute her — now she’s going through Philly, and will land in Madrid 30 min later than her original ETA. She sent a note to the family there to let them know, and now she has some time to kill at her gate, which is fine with her.

    I’m getting all verklempt.

  111. Anyway, rubs me the wrong way because I think it is part of the narrative that all birth defects are caused by health care providers.

    But that was especially common back in the day, when it was hugely embarrassing and shameful to have a “defective” child. My dad had something wrong with his hip. It wasn’t a major problem til he got arthritis in his 40s, but Grandma was insistent that it was because of forceps. Couldn’t possibly be a mild birth defect. Not in her genetic line, nossir.

  112. And I am getting pangs of jealousy. I can only hope that my kids are so competent at 18.

  113. Ada,

    Though the nurse had the necessary training, when the doctor’s arrival was delayed she demanded that Rose “hold her legs together tightly in the hope of delaying the baby’s birth.” When that failed, she resorted to “holding the baby’s head and forcing it back into the birth canal for two excruciating hours.”

    Is that physically possible?

  114. RMS – Of course, back in the day. The New York Times, in 2015, should not continue that mythology and state it as fact, however. (The quote is from wikipedia, who lifted it nearly verbatim from NYT).

  115. I have professional photos taken of our family every year as much for my own vanity as for any other reason. Professional photographers can still make me look halfway decent in a picture. Whereas in the spontaneous snapshots taken by friends or family members, I tend to look like a tired old bag. :(

    Risley, best wishes to your DH and you as you enter this new stage. It must be bittersweet.

  116. I don’t believe it is physically possible. If the baby is coming out (especially through a pelvis that had birthed 2 other full term babies), it is coming out.

    Anyway, a normal birth can involve a baby head being in the birth canal for hours without any subsequent problems.

  117. L – I love matching outfits and professional pictures. This is directly related to my jealousy of the parents who have it together to present 3 polished kids to the world each and every day. We do them every other year or so.

  118. My kids were just like Risley’s in their college years. Of course, that was in the pre mobile phone days. When stuff happened, they dealt with it. At 18, though, that is pretty impressive.

  119. @Swim & Scarlett – I can relate a bit already, and it is something that I worry about sometimes. But he is happy & sociable enough. He gets along well with kids at school and in his other activities – he just doesn’t seem to have a desire to get together with them much outside school/organized activities. And he would much rather be alone than do activities that he isn’t 100% interested in himself (which is much different from DH & I as kids – we would go along with the crowd much more to be with friends.) Selfishly, I don’t mind because he likes spending time with us for now. I guess we’ll see how it develops as he gets into middle school – which is coming faster than I want to admit.

  120. I like the professional pictures too but am not very good at doing them often. Haven’t done it since my youngest was born and that was almost four years ago. My BIL/SIL do them 3 to 4 times per year because they have to capture every single stage of their little darlings’ lives (once per year would not be enough).

  121. Ada/Meme – I feel compelled, for the kid’s sake, to mention she is still 17.

  122. “My BIL/SIL do them 3 to 4 times per year because they have to capture every single stage of their little darlings’ lives (once per year would not be enough).”

    One of my BIL/SIL does this too. I think she has a professional photog on retainer. LOL

    We have only done professional photos once – for charity – and I still hated them. We’ve gotten a couple of decent ones at family weddings where everyone is all cleaned up. Our vacation photos never quite turn out – always a bad angle, weird face, etc. We finally got a photo I liked in Toronto a few years ago, but there was a huge goose in the frame that we didn’t notice!

  123. Slightly off topic – the other day I heard a mom and dad talking to their roughly 2-3 year old child after a doctor’s visit. M: “You were so wonderful at the doctor’s. You did not get upset when you got the shot in your arm.” D: ” You were so fantastic, not distraught at all. Such composure. Awesome. We are so proud of you.” I dunno, it just struck me as just too much. I’m not doing it justice but the words they used were either very simple – wonderful, fantastic, awesome – to way beyond the child’s years – distraught, composure. It reminded me of someone on this site jokingly saying to their spouse – look how well she breathes! And blinks!

    A good friend of mine just congratulated her daughter on having a high IQ – as if her daughter had something to do with it. That also struck me as odd. OTOH, maybe I’m stingy with compliments.

  124. Risley – I hope my kids can navigate through the way your DD just did at that age.

    The best compliment I have received about my kids from others is that they are well loved. I liked that a lot. I don’t think parents of our ethnicity praise their kids often enough for fear of spoiling them.

  125. @Kerri — Yeah, it does sound kinda OTT. OTOH, when DD was 8, she had the world’s biggest fit over shots — literally crawled under the chairs in the doctor’s office and grabbed onto the legs for dear life so they couldn’t haul her out. *So* embarrassing. So I, umm, err, may have been a little overly effusive with my praise when she only cried like a normal kid the next year. :-)

  126. Risley, dumb question, but why did she book the itinerary if she thought the connection was too tight in the first place?

  127. And he would much rather be alone than do activities that he isn’t 100% interested in himself (which is much different from DH & I as kids – we would go along with the crowd much more to be with friends.)

    As long as he’s not bothered by it then it’s probably not something to worry about. However, if he wants more of a connection and one isn’t forthcoming, you might want to explain how his reluctance to participate in anything he isn’t 100% into may be part of the problem.

  128. Kerri, my guess would be that the child had reacted to earlier shots in a big way, so they were relieved. Or maybe they’re just overweening. The nurses where DS gets his allergy shots are blase about kids refusing, and will call in help to hold the kid still during the shot. I’m glad we never had to deal with that–I’d have been conflicted 8 ways to Sunday.

    ITA that birth defects and IQ levels are not things anyone–parents or kids–have control over or should be shamed/praised for.

    Ada, “hold your legs together” is silly and the uterus doesn’t contract or relax in command, but doesn’t the instruction to push or not push yet make a difference?

  129. you might want to explain how his reluctance to participate in anything he isn’t 100% into may be part of the problem.

    How, exactly, would you do that?
    Kid: I can’t find anybody to do x with me
    Parent: you need to loosen up and do Y. Then you’d have friends.
    Kid: Would they do x with me?

  130. Denver – the dad in Spain booked it for her. She pointed out the tight connection and the fact that Chicago airports can be super crowded, and I guess he assumed that since they gave him those connectors as an option, it would be possible for her to make it. She was game to try.

  131. Kid: Would they do x with me?

    Sure, but it’s all part of a grand give and take. You do things they want to do and in return they do things you want to do.

  132. “How, exactly, would you do that?
    Kid: I can’t find anybody to do x with me
    Parent: you need to loosen up and do Y. Then you’d have friends.
    Kid: Would they do x with me?”

    Right. And it’s not like his interests are all that exotic for a 9yo boy – he likes pretty much any sports/games, math, chess club, and all the typical YouTube/video games (e.g., Dude Perfect & doing “trick shots” and water bottle flipping/fidget spinners). But he doesn’t really care for legos, pokemon or any play that involves play-fighting. So if that’s the way that the crowd is going, he will play by himself or whatever. If the crowd is going towards his interests, he’ll join in.

    And he seems to not really crave social time outside of school/aftercare/camp/activities, which at this age is starting to seem a little different from some of his classmates who seem to be more into sleepovers & socializing on the weekends.

    But – I have told him that compromise (doing things other people like to do sometimes so that they will return the favor) and learning about other people’s interests is part of being a good friend.

    It’s just something to watch and also something that I find baffling personally because it is so NOT me or DH. Mostly, I think it is a good personality trait to have & I certainly hope he will retain a good portion of this to stay more immune to peer pressure than we were in HS.

  133. LfB – Yes, I thought that at the time, which is why I did not roll my eyes. You all are privileged enough to hear my inner monologue. I’m sure some of my more interesting parenting moments happened on the sidewalk since we walk everywhere. I recall DS2 having a complete and total meltdown because he did not get to go to OT like his brother. He screamed, “I WANT TO GO TO THERAPY TOO!” on the sidewalk outside the OT’s office in tears. (OT is really fun for kids BTW – scooters, mats, climb-y things.)

  134. “you might want to explain how his reluctance to participate in anything he isn’t 100% into may be part of the problem.

    How, exactly, would you do that?”

    “Well, dear, sometimes friends do what you like, and sometimes you do what friends like — it’s a compromise. So if you’re happy as is, keep doing what you like, and hanging out with the friends who want to do that with you. But if you’re not happy and want more friends, maybe come up with some of the things they like that you are willing to do to hang out with them.”

  135. @Ivy: FWIW, your son is basically me as a kid. Something my mother the extrovert couldn’t quite conceive — you mean you’d rather hang out in your room reading a book than angling for a date with some marginal boy like I did, just to get out of the house? What’s wrong with you? ;-)

  136. Risley, that makes sense.

    How, exactly, would you do that?
    Kid: I can’t find anybody to do x with me
    Parent: you need to loosen up and do Y. Then you’d have friends.
    Kid: Would they do x with me?

    Parent: Yes, there’s a good chance if you do Y with them they might do X with you.

    That’s one of those unspoken social rules that a lot of us here didn’t understand. I was focused on the activity, not the socialization part. Then after you say no to Y or Z a few times, they stop inviting you completely. It took me a long time to get used to the idea that if I wanted to have friends, I’d have to do things out of my comfort zone.

  137. Ivy – I am that way, but I have always attributed it to being an only child. I never HAD to go along to do something I didn’t want (except stuff Mom wanted to drag me to, and she had the power) because there was no need to take turns or bow to majority rule. So it seems totally normal to me to participate whenever a group is doing something I either want or can tolerate, but to stay home and not get in the way of what they want to do if I am really not interested (or in college, if it would exhaust my meager entertainment budget). I never tried hard to change minds to do what I might want, and that seemed completely fair to me. Guess that doesn’t work, but I can only understand the correct procedure at an intellectual level, not a gut level. And my mom was the opposite – the introvert from a very large noisy family who thought my lonely life was heavenly and praised me constantly on the fact that I had such deep inner resources (completely missing the fact that I might actually prefer not to be a social misfit with few friends).

  138. “Writing a paper at the very last minute and getting 100?”

    Shades of Mr. WCE and calculus.

    “And don’t be surprised if your son is one of only two or three boys in that AP lit class.”

    An additional bonus.

  139. “It isn’t as easy to follow this advice in HS because colleges are looking for certain required courses, and sometimes there is only one teacher in a small school that teaches a course.”

    Also, some HS don’t allow kids to choose teachers/sections.

  140. “I really, really love the goofy pics, much more than the normal ones where everyone matches and behaves appropriately. :-)”

    I love pics that show people having fun and enjoying themselves.

  141. Scarlett said ” By focusing on the reputation of the prof instead of the actual subject of the course, they have had a good experience.”

    OK, I have to disagree. Especially in fields where there is a sequence of courses, this can be a bad move. Why? Because the professor’s reputation rarely has much to do with what students actually learn. There was a study about this a couple of years ago – they took a look at a large engineering course which had many sections, and was the prerequisite to a later course. They compared the student evaluations of the people teaching the sections, and then looke to see how students fared. They found that students who took sections of the first course with higher rated professors did WORSE in the subsequent course.

    I see this in my own program – the person with the highest ratings in CS1 consistently sends out students with B’s who end up failing the next course. She is really sweet and kind and friendly, and holds everyone’s hands through the assignments – too much, I think, because her students aren’t learning to do it on their own.

    One of the big problems with student evaluations and sites like RateMyProfessor is that they have no way of collecting data on how well prepared students are for later courses.

  142. Risley, I am so dreading that moment. I love, love, love having lots of people under my roof, and lots of noise. I remember being so sad when I left home for college because I knew I would miss being in a family, and it was one of the big reasons I stayed in dorms all the way through grad school. I stayed in an apartment for 6 weeks one summer because the dorm summer term didn’t fit my timing, and I was so friggin’ depressed. When I graduated, I made sure I had roommates but even that was kind of depressing. I moved in with, and eventually married my husband, and it was nice having a partner, as well as a cat, in the house, but I still missed the family of my childhood, and so did my husband, and that was a big reason we had kids.

  143. Mooshi’s comments about structuring her courses so her students can succeed differ from some of my college experiences. I imagine I would use RateMyProfessor to identify people who give exams that reflect the material they cover in courses and to identify TA’s with understandable accents. At the introductory level, instructor quality varied dramatically. I can imagine myself giving Scarlett’s advice to carefully consider the instructor for a course to my kids.

  144. Even the phrase “structuring her courses so her students can succeed ” is problematic because the definition of “success” means something very different to an inexperienced student (good grade, mainly) than to the poor professors faced with those “successful” students down the line. Research also finds that student evaluations (which are a good proxy for RateMyProfessor style evaluations) mainly correlate with expected grade, as well as to some prejudices – women and minorites consistently are rated lower than white men. What student evaluations do not correlate with, according to research, is what students actually learn. In a major where courses don’t build skills, such as Scarlett’s dreaded .studies majors, that may not be a problem.

  145. I used feedback from upperclassmen (RateMyProfessor didn’t exist) to identify which semester the organized professor was teaching organic chemistry and all of us negatively evaluated a super-disorganized engineering professor and another who (it turned out) was struggling with alcoholism. I suspect your observations are true for typical students, but not for students who have already been thru the engineering filter at Land Grant U. I think the professors we considered bottom decile really were bottom decile, and the other 90% were all “fine”.

  146. “She is really sweet and kind and friendly, and holds everyone’s hands through the assignments”

    Mooshi, that’s the kind of thing students dinged me for not doing, once I had a kid. I think I’ve mentioned on here before that, in their minds, I went from being sassy, smart older cousin to social studies lady who was a bitch because I didn’t bend over backwards the way they thought I should, and because I insisted they learn. Yes, gen in the humanities and social sciences, students need to master one level to know what’s going on at the next. I’m so sick of the crap y’all like to throw our way, don’t know why you feel the continuing need.

  147. “Because the professor’s reputation rarely has much to do with what students actually learn.”

    Oh, you can’t rely on RateMyProf or other similar resources for this exercise. As per Lauren’s experience, you need a mentor — a professor or trustworthy upperclassmen who can guide you to the best. DS1 consulted a professor in his major (whom we know — one of the perks of being a faculty kid) who told him which professors to seek out. His younger brothers used that info, and also consulted classmates whom they trusted.

  148. My daughter has found RateMyProf to be a godsend. She didn’t know about it her first semester, but has used it since. She also checks the grade distributions. Ratemyprof is just the 21st century version of talking to upperclassmen.

  149. I thought of something that makes me jealous of other kids….their hair. I was at my youngest’s soccer game tonight. It is super humid out and several girls have beautiful long straight hair. My DDs hair is all over the place that I couldn’t even bring a brush near. Any attempt to brush would being tears. She would even let me put it in a pony because it would hurt to pull the hair back. So there you have it. I would love for them to have straight easy to brush and style hair.

  150. My first used RatemyProf, and I’m having the second use it as well. It has been particularly helpful for identifying teachers with poor English skills. For kids who have to really focus on note-taking and are already slow at it, a language barrier can really make a class unnecessarily difficult. A couple of negative comments wouldn’t rule out a teacher, but 50+ negative comments is a red flag. Start time will always drive course selection for my kids. If a great teacher has only an 8 am class, they’ll go with mediocre any day.

  151. The choosing of courses and rating of professors is good to know. In college I was focused on graduating on time so I took a few classes in the summer and did end up with one or two professors who were considered demanding.
    In HS is the general concenus that there are too few teachers or maybe one teacher so no choice ?
    My kid told me that other kids for electives would see which teacher they had on the first day. If the teacher turned out too demanding the kids would asked to be moved to health or something like that. I don’t know about moving the kids to a whole year of not effectively taking an elective (or maybe there is a restriction that I don’t know about).
    The Totebag has been helpful in a lot of areas. I do speak to other parents but I am not there everyday and usually see them at school events. Also, with first child you find things out and that information makes it easier for any siblings following.

  152. Why is “demanding” bad? Students often learn more from demanding professors or teachers. My oldest had a bio teacher who has a reputation for being very demanding – but she also has an incredible ability to prepare students for the SAT2 in bio. Her students all do well on it. So my second kid was really happy when he also got her for bio.
    I know it is good to avoid the very disorganized and those who can’t speak English at all. But even those comments can be misleading. I have a colleague who has a very slight accent. He is totally understandable, but he gets dinged on RateMyProfessor badly for his accent.

    Anyway, keep in mind that the demanding professor may be the one who prepares you so well in Calculus I that you are able to ace the rest of the Calc sequence.

  153. Why is “demanding” bad?

    In terms of college, the vast majority of kids are just there to get their ticket punched. A demanding prof can really get in the way of a good time.

  154. I find it difficult to believe that RateMyProf or whatever else is available on the internet does not convey useful information. My thought overall is that MM’s son should be picking his own schedule as a senior.

  155. At my school we had “shopping” period, which was the BEST – you could go to class for a week at the beginning of the semester and see if you liked it. There was a lot of ducking in and out halfway through class, but it did a great job of sorting people into the classes they would like.

    MM, what does your DS want to take? I would go with that option.

  156. It makes me sad that he doesn’t want to take English Lit, because there are so many wonderful worlds in those classic books. But if he really doesn’t, Government sounds pretty straightforward. There are a bunch of rules about how the government works. Learn them. Take test. The End.

  157. L, I said several times already – he does not care. He does care about taking orchestra, and calculus, and AP physics. He does not care about this choice.

  158. He has to take English Lit and government no matter what. He wants one of them to be AP level, and is trying to choose based on maximizing his attractiveness to schools and potential for knocking off a course in college.

  159. And learn to say “Marbury v. Madison” or “Dred Scott” or “Brown v. Board of Education” whenever they’re talking about the Supreme Court.

  160. My AP English lot course (I guess that is what it was) totally ruined my appreciation for novels. I hated picking them apart. I just didn;t care about the symbolism of choosing the color yellow for the girl’s dress on page 45, and honestly, always wondered if the authors weren’t just laughing at us – “There was NO symbolism in my book you idiots!”.

  161. Rhett, I totally get that most students just want to have a good time, but when Johnny gets to multivariate Calc having not learned much in Calc I and II, he won’t be partying as he scrambles to learn the stuff. Sadly, I see this all the time.

  162. Sadly, I see this all the time.

    Do these kids have any business in multivariate Calc in the first place?

  163. Mooshi – in the lower grades that sort of “what do you think the author thinks” sorts of questions are no longer there. The questions are directly based on what is stated in the text.

  164. I find that analyzing the novels along certain rubrics helps in gaining a deeper appreciation. But whatevs. Do you also hate analyzing music?

  165. The rating websites can help prospective students avoid teachers with limited English skills, or who have other undesirable and easily-measured attributes. But most students put very little time or effort into these reviews. They aren’t the best source of finding professors like the one Lauren mentioned, who are experts at conveying their passion for their subject matter and who inspire students to sign up for whatever courses they offer, regardless of how obscure or dull they may seem from the title.

    It’s like finding an author like Erik Larson or Ben McIntyre or David McCullough, or a filmmaker like Ken Burns.

  166. I don’t have the technical background for music analysis. I have tried to read some books on modern composers, for example, and found that I just couldn’t understand them. I loved my two college art history courses, but they were in very topics in medieval art, and the analysis was more based on history and culture – lots of discussion of how a 10th century Greek would have understood a particular image because it referred to earlier classical texts, or to a specific religious belief. I think that was one of the things I hated so much about HS English Lit – the total lack of grounding in history and culture. We had to read Cry the Beloved Country, for example, which is completely about a specific period in African history. The teacher tried to treat it in isolation, doing the stock literary analysis, without getting into apartheid, colonialism, and the breakdown of African tribal society. How could anyone understand that novel without that background? In art history, we never would look at the pieces in cultural isolation like that. So for me, art history was far more interesting and useful.

  167. The problem with RateMyProfessor is that it is self selected. So it tends to skew to the disgruntled students. You have no way of knowing if everyone in the course shared that opinion, or just a few. Unfortunately, student evals are becoming more like that because we do them online now. So you get response rates of 20% or so. In the old days, everyone filled them out on paper in class. Student evals were far more useful back then, because you got the whole range of opinion. And if 15 people in a class of 30 said they couldn’t read your handwriting, you knew it was time to shape up. Now, you just don’t know. In the past few years, I have moved to having them fill out the online evals during class, so I can get a better response rate. But it still isn’t as good, I guess because there is no paper to hand in.

  168. I have a colleague who has a very slight accent. He is totally understandable, but he gets dinged on RateMyProfessor badly for his accent.

    It could be that you are used to his accent, or you have a better ear for this type of thing than most.

    I looked at RateMyProfessor when I was getting my nursing and NP degrees, but I had no choice in my classes or teachers so it was moot. My impression is that it’s like Yelp or other review sites – if there is a trend of similar comments (positive or negative), they are probably accurate. The star ratings themselves don’t help much.

  169. Scarlett, I do get students who ask me which professor to take a course from. But those tend to be the very top students, and often I know their concern is that they want a professor who is going to be more demanding. We have so many students who drag down the courses, and the students who ask me for advice often say they are trying to avoid the professors who attract the weaker students. Keep in mind, in my field, the students know they have to get through technical interviews when they graduate, so the top students, the ones who are ambitious, want more preparation, not less.

    I spent a couple of afternoons during exam week coaching one of our best students because he was going to an interview with Google. Google makes it clear that they expect to ask questions on almost anything from classic computer science. This student is very smart, with a straight A average (and he got a 100 for the semester in the last class he took from me), but man, whoever taught his data structures course did not cover much.

  170. Why is “demanding” bad?

    Demanding can mean a lot of different things. It could mean a really good teacher who pushes students to do their best. It could could also mean a mediocre or bad teacher who assigns a lot of busy work.

  171. So for me, art history was far more interesting and useful.

    Because it was taught correctly. It’s a shame you never took a lit class that was taught correctly.

  172. I just looked up the ratings for one of my old friends. Seriously, there’s a “hotness” rating? She’s 70. Guess what! They don’t think she’s that hot. Other than that, there are mixed reviews, but the dumb ones are by obviously dumb kids. The general consensus is that she makes the class way too challenging given that it’s a required class. I can believe that.

  173. “We had to read Cry the Beloved Country, for example, which is completely about a specific period in African history. The teacher tried to treat it in isolation, doing the stock literary analysis, without getting into apartheid, colonialism, and the breakdown of African tribal society. How could anyone understand that novel without that background?”

    This has more to do with bad teaching than lit. analysis. One of the things I always loved about, say, Jane Austen, was that it was a window into another time; it made the history “real” in the way that kings and wars and chronologies did not. DD’s school is doing an interesting thing where her English and SS classes sort of tag-team, so they learn the cultural/historical backstory at the same time they are analyzing the book. But she is also more like you, i.e., “maybe the door is just red — why does it have to *mean* something?”

  174. Then I looked up my favorite undergrad teacher — now retired, of course. But she got great reviews and I agree with most of them. She pushed us hard but she kept a sense of humor and was really engaging.

  175. Well, the class was AP, so they were following the official curriculum as it existed then. If my kid does take the AP Lit, we will see if it is any different now. Generally, my kids complain a lot about their English courses because they hate the analysis too. But my middle kid just wrote a paper for their Odyssey unit, in which he discussed Greek death rituals in the historical context and then talked about how that was reflected in the Odyssey. To me, that is what should be happening in English lit class, but I don’t know if it was just his idea or if it reflected what they were doing in the class.

  176. My fave undergrad professor, who I talked about in the thread on inspirational teachers, is absolutely slayed on RateMyProfessors.

  177. MM,

    Was this the guy who was terrible in class but if you went to office hours he’d make you tea and walk you through everything?

  178. I changed my major from English to science in my third year of college partly because I was so tired of all the interpreting that seemed too subjective. Give me something that’s data based, I said! Interestingly, once I started to work in science I found there was also plenty of subjective interpretation in that field.

  179. Risley – Ojala que tu hija tenga una experiencia maravillosa en Espana. (I hope your DD has a marvelous experience in Spain).

    What town/city will she be in?

  180. MM,
    It’s generally the better students who are interested in seeking out the top professors. Those who want to maximize their GPA per hour of effort can probably rely on RMP.

    I wonder whether the paper evaluations we did BITD were much better. The evaluation sheets were handed out near the end of class, and when you were done, you could leave. The incentives were not properly aligned. And these reviews were for internal use only — students had no way of accessing them. OTOH, you had to review the professor before you knew your grade.

  181. Thanks Fred! She arrived safely, though her luggage did not. I guess they didn’t glom onto the fact that she rerouted herself through Philly, so they sent the bag to Chicago. And when she didn’t show up there to switch planes, they kept it. She’s in Madrid until the kids finish school, then south to a town called … I have to look it up …

  182. Mooshi – Is there any doubt in your mind that your son will get into NJIT, where he seems to want to go? Can you afford it IRL (ignoring any doomsday scenario)? If so, spare yourself all this fretting and micro planning for various future scenarios. If there is a choice he has delegated to you and you have a strong opinion about what will make senior year of High School more enjoyable for him, go with it. Otherwise I’d pick the better teacher for the AP and not worry about college freshman comp.

  183. Lit. and music analyses: what Mooshi said. The door is blue because that is what paint was available and selected when it was being painted.

  184. So the girl’s dress was yellow because the Devil Wears Prada folks two years ago decided yellow was the “it” color and the trend finally made its way to mainstream? I feel so manipulated!

  185. “Lit. and music analyses: what Mooshi said. The door is blue because that is what paint was available and selected when it was being painted.”

    Ha – yes. This is me. I absolutely hated Lit in college. I took both American and French because I guess I felt like torturing myself. That was the end of my French minor. It all seemed like a contest to see who could BS the most convincingly. OTOH, I did very much enjoy Art History. But the professor was pretty much telling us what experts thought a work meant, not asking us. I don’t think I ever spoke in Art History – we sat in a dark room looking at slide shows.

    @Meme – I think you are right, and the only child thing helps make his innate nature come out. Some of his other only child friends really crave company, but he really doesn’t seem to be that way. Like I said – he has never complained about lack of friends or anything. It’s just an observation. And I am LFB’s mom baffled why he is not just like me. :)

  186. It all seemed like a contest to see who could BS the most convincingly.

    Isn’t that the point of the class? It’s sort of like debate where the goal isn’t to be right or wrong but to argue most convincingly.

  187. Isn’t that the point of the class? It’s sort of like debate where the goal isn’t to be right or wrong but to argue most convincingly.

    Well, no. It isn’t.

    But then again I abandoned literature for philosophy, and again, the point there is to get at the truth, but most people think it’s to win arguments. And that’s why I left philosophy, too. No one gives a shit about the truth. And no, scientists, you don’t either, so don’t get me started. And engineers just care about what works, not what’s true.

  188. ” It’s sort of like debate where the goal isn’t to be right or wrong but to argue most convincingly.”

    Ugh. Sounds awful. I know its hard to believe I’m a lawyer.

  189. LOL, Kerri, I agree. I hate arguing and get really anxious when I have to do it. Luckily there are other people here who I can use as the heavy most of the time. :)

  190. MM, if he doesn’t care, then I would just make him pick something. But YMMV, my kids are not close to his age so I have no idea what we’ll do when we get to that point.

  191. MM,

    I second what Meme said. Let him make the choice, and own it. Small stakes and potentially good life lesson. He will have to make a lot of these decisions on his own pretty soon.

  192. Kerri – I know this is from yesterday, but your description of what you witnessed in the doc’s office is literally what I do daily. I praise DS for the littlest things because he needs it (and I need it) – when he listens well or cleans up when asked or waits in line without complaining (or minimal complaining). It’s always “You did great at [activity]. Thank you for helping mommy by being a good boy.” or “Awesome job waiting, I know how hard it is to wait on line and I’m proud of you.” It’s downright patronizing and at the end of the day it’s probably not for him. It’s for me to retrain me from the constant “no, stop that.” or “That’s 1 (2…3… break)” or any other reasoning I try to do with the 2 year old. He needs the positive reinforcement, and I need to hear myself say good things about the boy so I’m not always convinced that he’s a beast who will grow up to be a horrible human being.

  193. Rhode – Which is exactly why I bit my tongue and didn’t roll my eyes. I really try not to be (visibly/verbally) judgy about parenting. Especially when the kid is 2-3 years old. Praising effort and giving compliments are a nice thing and a tool parent’s use for a variety of reasons. I just also see it go too far.

  194. “Well, the class was AP, so they were following the official curriculum as it existed then.”

    Well, there you have it. AP is where nuanced, contextualized discussion goes to die.

  195. Rhode, I’ve been there (albeit with a different kid with a different history), and it gets so much easier over the next year – well, really it was the next two years for me, sorry! – as he learns to talk more.

    It may not happen at the same pace as his age-mates, but it will happen, and once you have a better handle on what he is doing and why, and what is bothering him, life improves dramatically. I promise :) You will not spend the rest of your life saying no every 35 seconds.

    (I’m telling you this because I wish someone told me!)

  196. It may not happen at the same pace as his age-mates, but it will happen,

    Make this your mantra for the next 18 years. If you can remember that not being in the same time schedule as classmates means nothing in the grand scheme of life, you will avoid some crazy-making worry.

  197. As for rigid AP curricula where critical thought goes to die – my girls’ nationally ranked prep school did not BITD and (much to my delight) does not today offer structured AP courses outside of science, math, foreign language, with additions in the past 20 years of statistics and macroeconomics. No History or English, although they offer the exams, just not formal prep. They deliberately refused to teach to the test.

  198. “AP is where nuanced, contextualized discussion goes to die.”

    DS told me that his APUSH class was mostly about contextualized discussion, more so than regular USH. I believe the exam also had an essay portion.

  199. “The problem with RateMyProfessor is that it is self selected. So it tends to skew to the disgruntled students.”

    I don’t think that’s a problem. You just need to look at it through that lens.

    BTW, I think it also tends to skew to the students who really loved their profs, so a bimodal distribution.

  200. “He has to take English Lit and government no matter what. He wants one of them to be AP level, and is trying to choose based on maximizing his attractiveness to schools and potential for knocking off a course in college.”

    Given his great test score/not as great grades profile, for the purpose of maximizing his attractiveness to schools, I think he should focus on which course selections will maximize his GPA. Obviously he wants to get As in both, but if his school, or the schools in which he’s interested, weights GPAs, getting an A in an AP class is more important than getting an A in a non-AP class.

    You might think this is ridiculous, but it’s the kind of thinking that goes on in TX all the time.

    OTOH, I tend to agree with Mémé. I don’t think it’ll make that big a difference for college, since you don’t live in TX, and many acceptance decisions are made before first semester grades come out.

  201. DS told me that his APUSH class was mostly about contextualized discussion, more so than regular USH. I believe the exam also had an essay portion.

    Yeah, my AP classes were awesome, because I had smart, well-educated teachers who didn’t follow “the curriculum” (or whatever the hell was going on in Kentucky that year). The essays were wide-ranging. One of the English Lit questions was along the lines of “Pick a character from a novel who serves as a touchstone [no, I didn’t use the actual Touchstone] and describe [uh, something or other about the importance of the character in the novel. C’mon, it was 40 years ago.] We also analyzed George Herbert’s “The Collar”. I cannot believe I remember this.

    The Spanish Lit questions were similar. Pick a character from something you’ve read and tell us how that character plays an important role. Something along those lines.

    The U.S. History exam required essays that demonstrated that you’d read some original sources.

    But everything that ever happened to Mooshi before college was badbadbad, and the humanities are badbadbad and stupid too, and only computer science and math matter, and her experience is universally applicable to all schools at all times and all places throughout eternity.

  202. Oh my God, there’s a page with the old AP Eng Lit questions. I got the 1978 one wrong (I SAID it was almost 40 years ago). Here it is:

    Choose an implausible or strikingly unrealistic incident or character in a work of fiction or drama of recognized literary merit. Write an essay that explains how the incident or character is related to the more realistic or plausible elements in the rest of the work. Avoid plot summary

    I used Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, but damned if I can remember what I said. I got a 5, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s