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Habla Teenagerese?

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My oldest daughter doesn’t want to take Spanish next year.

I want her to take Spanish next year. It’s an elective only offered to eighth graders, it’s free, it’s available. To my mommy mind, it makes sense.

I explained the benefits of having a full year of Spanish completed before high school. She’ll be a year ahead. Spanish is the wisest language to learn in today’s world and especially in our part of the country.

These arguments failed to convince her, so I trotted out a seemingly innocuous observation about her friends. They are probably taking Spanish, right? I felt terrible hijacking peer pressure this way. Normally, I decry peer pressure but when it’s time to sign up for next year’s electives? Shame-less.

She claimed no, they aren’t. They all decided to take sculpture.

I pictured a lonely, dejected Spanish teacher and an incredibly overwhelmed art teacher saying mon dieu!

So rather than learning an important, marketable, socially-conscious life skill, you want to make vases and clay animals? I asked.


Big sighs from me. I flipped through the packet of classes and noted she had to choose by the next day. Tomorrow. Always too soon, so soon, and how did this happen? Weren’t you just born?

How did we get to this point where a Spanish vs. Clay Elephants debate is just a part of a weekday morning?

I could have insisted she take Spanish much like I insist she eat breakfast every day or complete her chores. You will! You will! I am the mother.

I didn’t. I decided to let this one go. There is time. She is far more interested in taking Chinese beginning in ninth grade. During two enrichment courses in previous years, she chose Chinese and learned some basics. She loved it.

Larger battles loom. There will be times when I will exercise my authority and absolutely insist on certain behaviors and decisions in the coming years. But I want her to know I can maintain perspective.

I want her to know I see her side.

I want her to know there will always be room on our shelves for hand-made clay figurines.

Author: gretchen

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 8, 2010

    Big your battles, eh? Evidently, hand-made clay figurines is not one worth winning. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Shannon June 8, 2010

    Oh, I can relate. My 15 year old son took Auto CADD this year, which, I suppose is not terrible…but it isn’t Spanish! I agree, you really have to choose your battles, but next year, he wants to take Cooking. I am thinking Cooking AND Spanish. He can practice conjugating verbs while he cooks us all dinner!

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  • comment avatar Adventures In Babywearing June 8, 2010

    I totally would have wanted to take the clay sculpture class, too! πŸ™‚


  • comment avatar Kelly @ Love Well June 8, 2010

    Here’s how much I tortured my parents: When I was a junior in high school, I dropped my elective literature course so I could take remedial study skills because a boy I liked was taking the study skills class.

    In my defense, I did learn how to take really good notes, which helped when I started college a year early.

    But still. Gah.

    I think you’ve chosen wisely. You will be rewarded.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz June 8, 2010

    Chinese could be good, too. But so much more difficult than Spanish!

    Still, I think you took the right approach. And who needs sopaipillas when you can have sculptures?

  • comment avatar Amy June 8, 2010

    Right call. Nice moming.

  • comment avatar becca banana June 8, 2010

    Right on. Or as some teens say, “That’s sick.”
    I loved the “how did this happen? Weren’t you just born?” πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Megan June 9, 2010

    True confession: I view practical art as a more marketable skill than speaking Spanish. My vote is with the almost 13yo. *grin*

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