Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I think I'm turning Japanese

This week will be a little crazy. Not being one of those moms that has each and every kid in 15 extracurricular activities and has them on a schedule that has them flying from the time their feet touch the floor to the time that they go to bed, we are a little overbooked this week.

My son started school yesterday for his last year of middle school. Yay! I don't know of anyone who has ever said the following phrase "Middle School was the best time of my LIFE!" No, middle school sucks. My daughter gets a bit of a tremor when she thinks about how much it sucked. She is very happy to be going to high school.

Which brings up the daughter. She has been thinking about applying to be a foreign exchange student and when we finally decided to go for it, the deadline was three weeks away. Three weeks doesn't sound like a short time, until you realize that you need to fill out the 18 page application, find a teacher in the summer time for a letter of reference, get a transcript from a middle school in the summer time, do a little photo essay, write a letter from parent to parent to introduce your child, have your child write a letter to their new family overseas, get a physical and dental exam (without health or dental insurance), and schedule a home interview with the person in charge of exchange students locally.

Oh, and she starts high school next week where we are fighting to get her into an independant language class. Usually they don't allow 9th graders to take independant language because they aren't mature enough to stick to it on their own. Since my daughter has been studying Japanese on her own for a year and wants to go to Japan as an exchange student and perhaps as an artist or translator someday, I have been advocating for her at her new school. Thankfully, they are at least willing to listen to us. We will find out on Thursday what the final verdict is, and my daughter will probably start studying all sorts of Spanish swear words if she is forced to take her sixth year of Spanish. We chose Harbor City International School because they seem to see the students as individuals, nothing like testing those waters right off the bat!

Getting the paperwork ready for her foreign exchange experience has been alternatly frustrating and interesting. It is definately set up to weed out people that are not really committed (and probably meant to be worked on a little longer than three weeks). It seems that I keep finding new things in the fine print that send me on yet another snipe hunt. "Oh man! I need to find the golden bust of Athena, pluck a ripe pomegranite from a tree in the holy land, AND find the holy grail! And I only have 24 hours to do it in????" I'm sure the entire process makes more sense for people a little smarter than myself.

But I did find that writing the letter to my daughter's new family (actually families as the kids change homes every three months or so), to be a bit of an interesting exercise. You're given a page of questions to answer within your letter and those questions include things like "How much freedom do you give your child?", "How does your child react to stress and disappointment?", "What is your child's relationship with the rest of the family?", "What are you the most proud of concerning your child?", "What are you concerned about?". Having never gone through family counseling, these are questions that I really haven't though a lot about. I happen to think that I am incredibly lucky as both of my kids have a wonderful combination of brains and good humor. I actually had to pause at the question of what I am most proud of. Not because I couldn't think of anything, but because I wanted to take it in a bit of a different direction. I'm sure that a lot of people would start listing a bunch of awards or material accomplishments, but I didn't go there. I am most proud of the fact that my daughter is a wonderfully funny individual. She is smart, fearless, and creative. She can take a frustrating or tense situation and break it open with a single smart ass comment. She is a good friend and underneath the goofy exterior, in the soft ionic curl of her soul, she is a kind and loving child.

And now I'm supposed to let her leave home for a year?

I'll deal with that later.

1 comment:

joan said...

What a great experience for her. Mine didn't do her year abroad until college. That felt hard enough! Brave kids.