A couple of days ago, I was folding laundry (when aren't we moms folding laundry, am I right?) and Gabrielle came in the room and asked, "Mom, can I use you as a reference?"
Lemme back up and remind you that Gabrielle is 10, count 'em 10, years old. She is in the fourth grade.
I was dumbfounded, so I used my go-to parenting technique of asking my children what they mean before I assume they understand adult words or concepts. "It's a person who can tell other people that you are good at your job or about you as person," she replied when I asked what she meant by "reference."
Again, I was stunned. Why does my 10-year-old know what a reference is, and why does she need one?
As I continued to talk with Ellie, this is what I learned:
- They are doing a Career Unit at school (this part I already knew...she had been joking around about how the "Happy Highway" and the "Funky Freeway" analogies used by the school to differentiate between the safe path and the risky path)
- As part of this unit, they are writing resumes.
- The aforementioned resume includes references.
As a teacher of high-achieving students who are often stressed beyond belief and filled with anxiety about their academic performance, I found myself shaking my head in dismay. Is it any wonder that we have kids who tell me "I check the grade portal more often than I check social media" and kids who battle anxiety and eating disorders that are rooted in their fear of being less than perfect? These types of students are so wrapped up in nerves and lost in mind games that they are too afraid to take risks, to try something new, to fail -- all of which are needed when one truly aspires to learn.
It doesn't help that this week the PSSA tests started at the elementary and middle schools, either. So much of this is out of my hands as a mother -- from the curriculum to the state-mandated standardized tests. What are we to do? Until we can get the Department of Education to stop and think about what they are doing to our nation's kids, all we can do is guide our children through it, one step at a time.
I told Gabrielle that when I was her age, I wanted to either be an opera singer or a nun (largely based on my obsession with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music), and that my current resume contains experiences I never knew were possible at age 10, or even 20. So, she could absolutely use me as a reference, but the last thing she needs to worry about is her career path right now.
As for those PSSAs?