Aside — for those with teenagers

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I have been accused of painting too rosy a picture of middle age, and it’s true that I do accentuate the good. But I do not discount the horror, and nothing is more horrible than having a teenager applying to college.  This brilliant column was written by a high school senior, and was published by the Wall Street Journal. If all our children could write like this we could not possibly fear for their futures.

TO (ALL) THE COLLEGES THAT REJECTED ME:

If only I had a tiger mom or started a fake charity

By SUZY LEE WEISS [no relation]

Like me, millions of high-school seniors with sour grapes are asking themselves this week how they failed to get into the colleges of their dreams. It’s simple: For years, they—we—were lied to.

Colleges tell you, “Just be yourself.” That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.
What could I have done differently over the past years?

For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would’ve happily come out of it. “Diversity!” I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker. If it were up to me, I would’ve been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.

I also probably should have started a fake charity. Providing veterinary services for homeless people’s pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you’re using someone else’s misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you’re golden.

Having a tiger mom helps, too. As the youngest of four daughters, I noticed long ago that my parents gave up on parenting me. It has been great in certain ways: Instead of “Be home by 11,” it’s “Don’t wake us up when you come through the door, we’re trying to sleep.” But my parents also left me with a dearth of hobbies that make admissions committees salivate. I’ve never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn’t last past the first lap. Why couldn’t Amy Chua have adopted me as one of her cubs?

Then there was summer camp. I should’ve done what I knew was best—go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life. Because everyone knows that if you don’t have anything difficult going on in your own life, you should just hop on a plane so you’re able to talk about what other people have to deal with.

Or at least hop to an internship. Get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. “Assistant Director of Mail Services.” “Chairwoman of Coffee Logistics.” I could have been a gopher in the office of someone I was related to. Work experience!

To those kids who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe: My parents make me watch your “60 Minutes” segments, and they’ve clipped your newspaper articles for me to read before bed. You make us mere mortals look bad. (Also, I am desperately jealous and willing to pay a lot to learn your secrets.)

To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I say shhhh—”The Real Housewives” is on.

Ms. Weiss is a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh.

One thought on “Aside — for those with teenagers

  1. I am a tiger Mom, or at least I have it in me. A wise man once told me that it is normal for teenagers to rebel, and that I should not try to prevent that from happening. He explained to me that the rebellious process is how our children become independent. And I definitely don’t want my children, now 10 and 12, to depend on me when they grow up. Based on that theory, I tried to be more relaxed when my daughters try to disobey me.

    I always try to teach them how to observe, judge and handle things on their own. I would usually point out that although I know what they are doing, I would prefer waiting for them to grow up and gain more self-control, instead of punishing them right away, unless I have to. They are doing better from time to time. But today, after throwing a tantrum for half an hour, my preteen daughter accused me of causing her to rebel when I tried to talk to her gently, pointing out what she did wrong. Because to her, I am being sarcastic, and that is annoying to her! Help! If I can’t yell at her, and now I can’t even smile or laugh at her when she is doing wrong. What am I supposed to do? I don’t want to ignore her, pretending that I didn’t know or didn’t see. Because, beside worrying how they would turn out to be in the future, I don’t want her to accuse me of not doing enough parenting when she grow up. Alas! What a life for Middle-Aged single mother of preteens.

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