Update – He has just received his PSAT results (yet another test of which we have very little knowledge) and apparently his results were considerably better than his grades predicted. He is now avidly consulting college resources to explore his career options, with the current frontrunner being anesthesiologist. The reason for this? “It’s well paid, and you get to sit down and read magazines”. I can sense a visit to the career counselor coming on, lest he be unleashed on the health service..

We had a particularly interesting moment with the Wiggy One this week. Normally very mellow, he occasionally explodes into a seething mass of hormones, hair, uncoordinated limbs and spectacular examples of poorly thought out accusations.

The latest detonator was the high school ‘Grade Point Average’ system. For the non-US expats amongst us, college entry in the US is based on academic scores over the high school period across the classes. An A requires an above 90% score for the class, and gives you a 4.0 GPA; a B is 80 – 90% and scores a 3.0, and so on. Sadly for all concerned, this level of academic scrutiny is carried out for the next three years, during which they are going through puberty, growth spurts, acne and obsession with all things Xbox, so the potential for disaster is huge.

Needless to say, the grades that prompted the explosion were not A’s. Nor were they B’s. They appear somewhat later in the alphabet, and are usually associated with profanity. Which is exactly the unguarded response that they triggered in the Other Half at the dinner table when we finally learned of their existence.

Parentline, an excellent British parenting resource (which sadly does not have a toll free number for expatriates, but really should have) recommends staying calm in these moments, and maintaining channels of communication with the Tasmanian Devil formerly known as Tom. (They also don’t specifically refer to him by name, but I’m thinking of suggesting it for future advisory publications.) So I took a deep breath, washed it down with a large amount of gin, and reminded him that the longer he took to inform us of these small hiccups in his school transcript, the less able we were to help him resolve the issue, and the fewer choices he would have down the line when he was applying to college. (Excellent Mother Moment, even if I do say so myself).

His response showed the maturity, wisdom and critical thinking skills that can only be gained by an expensive, global, carefully chosen and often privately funded education, which has been our highest priority throughout our expatriate journey. It showed passion, attention to detail and considerable volume. And it took us a little by surprise.

“I don’t even want to go to college – it’s just four more years of work!”

Quite what he felt would happen to those ‘college years’ should he chose not to attend is a mystery. Maybe they give out scholarships for excessive hair growth or ability to sleep for extended periods, without the necessity of attending an institute of Higher Learning? He appears to be under the impression that work and/or college are optional extras only to be attempted as a last resort between editions of Call of Duty, and that living with your parents is a long term life plan.

So I’m off to see the school Career Counselor today. We obviously need to start with the basics. Like ‘Where do ┬áMummy and Daddy go when they leave for the day?’ and ‘How does money work?’

Wish me luck. I may be some time..

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7 Responses to The F Bomb – Expat Education Challenge Update

  1. Sarah says:

    So so funny. The wonderful thing is that this experience transcends continents … I was suggesting to my teenager only this week that perhaps he should consider being a gardener instead of doing the ‘hardest A levels in the world’. After all he has demonstrated he can cut grass (albeit at the slowest speed EVER) whereas I’m not sure I can stand much more hysterical ranting/random crashing in his pursuit of a place at Uni and all the enormous cost (to me)this entails. Loving the website. :)

  2. This is so funny yet so true, thanks for making us laugh in reflection.

  3. Martha says:

    Im so glad he cut his hair. People called it a halfro.

  4. Evan says:

    Rachel,

    Console yourself with at least one ‘G’ for ‘Gin’. It won’t be long before he finds ‘B’ is for ‘Beer’ and your chances of ‘A’ for ‘Apple-juice’ are then ‘B’ for ‘Buggered’.

    Best regards,

    Evan

  5. Bass says:

    Rachel — That brought back memories of his mother many years ago

  6. Kathy says:

    This is very funny. My teenager came home with the same letter of the alphabet earlier in the year. After some adjustment, he has turned it around! So there is hope!

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