Thursday, January 10, 2013

Overachieve Much?

The day has finally come for Cora to take the first step in achieving her dreams...of becoming a world class overachiever. First, I'm going to give you a little background on me - to explain her ambition and inspiration. Then, I'm going to give you a little background on her - her goals, her motivation, and the expectations that have been laid on her.

So, I was a chronic underachiever as a kid. I went to public school and they had no idea what to do with me. I had an absurdly high IQ, and was very eager to please. When it came to homework, though, I ranged from so distracted that it was never finished - to outright refusing to do the work because I could not comprehend the purpose. I rarely earned less than a perfect score on my tests, but since homework was 50% of the grade, I still flunked. The school kept promoting me to higher grades in the hopes I would take interest in the more advanced work, but it was never advanced enough to hold my attention. When I was 15, the school district basically forged some records, gave me a test, and handed me a diploma to get rid of me. It was a much longer and drawn out process, of course, and Cora has heard many of the funny or weird stories that it's made up of.

She's also aware that I'm not an anomaly  +Jason Shepherd  had a rough road in high school but it also resulted in an early graduation. One of my childhood friends, and one of my earliest crushes, was the youngest person to graduate college at the time. I believe his record has since been broken, but when Cora heard about him she became fascinated with the idea. She had once told me she wanted to have her college degree by the time she was 12.

Here is where my controversial parenting methods move to center stage though. Cora had the intellect to pull that off. She was reading med school anatomy books for fun at 4-5 yrs old. By 9yrs old, her favorite author was Shakespeare. My friend had talked to me about his experiences, though, and I'd later become friends with some of his old classmates that gave me an outside perspective, too. I don't think such early college attendance has to be bad for every child that's capable, but it certainly was for him. As much as he felt his issues were a matter of not fitting in because of his age, it has always seemed to me that it was a matter of being forced into an environment he wasn't ready for socially or emotionally. In order to succeed at the level he did, his father had to push him at downright unfatherly levels. It would be the same for Cora, and I wasn't willing to do that to her or our relationship.

Instead I told her that I would support her goals, whatever they were. Heck, I even put her in swim lessons when she was 2 and wanted to be a boat when she grew up! I would not be pushing her, though. If she wanted this, it had to be by her own efforts, not by mine. I won't make her be what I want her to be, or what she says she wants to be. Who she becomes should be determined by her choices, not mine. Until 2011, she never put more than a passing interest into studying and academics, which was fine by me. I didn't remind her of her desire, or push her to work harder. She did become motivated though, and has been putting more and more time and attention into academic studies. Jason and I both think she is developing the motivation to work toward and succeed at her goal of early graduation and college with support, but not pressure, from us. An accredited diploma will make that monumentally easier, and she has asked us to enroll her in American School of Correspondence. It's self paced so if she isn't really ready for it after all, she has 6 years to finish. If she's particularly motivated, she can finish as fast as she likes though. Jason and I signed her up last night, and I expect she'll work through at least the first year or two of courses at an extremely accelerated pace. I have no idea how long she'll keep it up, though, or if she'll be ready to handle more than a single class at a time when she starts college. Only time shall tell.