Week 19: Rising Junior

August 6, 2020

I’m watching my 16-year-old have a great day. She hung out with friends in person, and online. She’s outside right now, getting a great workout on her stationary bike with the Peloton app. She’s wearing the new workout clothes she got and she looks adorable.

So what’s the problem? The problem is the unopened, orange paperback book lying on her carpet, that just happens to be required reading for her upcoming junior year. The problem is she had a pre-term assignment for A.P. Spanish due on Saturday, and she hasn’t started it yet. The problem is a bunch of other work — the details of which I don’t even know because I’m a bad mom who’s lost her Schoology password — that she also hasn’t begun.

Unlike me at that age, Sarah is a straight-A student. Like me at 16, though, she’s a procrastinator. It is stressful to procrastinate. It is also stressful to watch someone procrastinate. To walk by her room and hear Taylor Swift playing or the burble of high-pitched giggles, when there should only be the silence that comes from deep concentration. Or — maybe worse — to hear nothing, only to peek in and realize she’s watching another Tik Tok video with headphones on.

There must be something I’m supposed to do. Right? Right? I am nagging. That, obviously, is going nowhere fast. I could start taking things away. But this coronavirus has taken away so much. She already had a teary bout today when her friends invited her to join them at the beach, but she couldn’t bear to hop into the car with them, none of them masked, and risk getting sick. Her older brother offered to drive her there and drop her off but she said it was no use, they wouldn’t social distance once they got there, either, and she’d be stressed about her exposure for days after.

If I take anything else away, I’m afraid she will crack.

I guess the only option I have is to let her bumble and stumble her way through the mess she’s creating with every hour, every day that ticks past without academic action. And while I’m doing so, train myself to look the other way.

Eleventh grade starts in 12 days. Wish us luck.

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