Parents tread a thin line between success and failure at raising their children, and rare is the time when your own kid inks that line as clearly as our daughter Li’l Diva did.
This tale, like so many we were supposed to learn in school but cheated only ourselves by simply poring over the Cliff Notes, begins in medias res with a shocking discovery. Enter my wife -- concerned look, furrowed brow, a question tinged with accused failure on her lips.
"Have you ever had the drug talk with your daughter?" Note the girl is mine. Possession is nine-tenths the other parent's in troubled times.
No, My Love, I have never had a formal sit-down, "Let's review this PowerPoint presentation on the evils of mind-altering substances" discussion with either child born of thy womb (note: phrase thought, not said, hence I still have fingers able to type this story). On many occasions, though, when the kids and I see TV characters or real live buffoons making bad decisions, I dutifully point out in Dean Wormer fashion that that is no way to go through life, son and/or daughter. Besides, with all the meds my teenage daughter takes already to manage her nearly lifelong bout with the autoimmune disease juvenile myositis, she knows well that the fewer chemicals in her system, the better.
Then my wife handed me the paper.
She had just come home from a hard day of herding overstuffed executives seeking yet more perks and pay. Walking up the stairs, she glanced over the railing at the desk. In plain view lay a sheet of paper headlined, in the handwriting of our precious girl: "My Goal List." What followed was a series of bulleted lines, all left blank, save the first. It read, "Get High."
While I tend to always think the worst of a situation, I lean toward thinking the best of those I know and love in said situation. Even if our daughter was dumb enough to mean what she wrote, she'd at least be smart enough not to leave it out in the open, I reasoned, so this can't be what it seems. Maybe she simply aspired to grow an inch or two. My wife and I maintained this calm and rational logic right after Parenting 101 first required us to methodically work through a list of our daughter's friends to pinpoint potential corrupting influences.
Since I, primary caretaker yet mere mortal, had seemingly failed, my daughter's mother decided she would handle the subsequent interrogation. She left the allegedly damning goal in a conspicuous place where she and the suspect would later "discover" it together.
Soon my wife had answers. With the school year starting, "our" daughter had decided to list all she wanted to accomplish. "The top of her list was going to be `get high honors,' " my wife revealed, "but then she realized she had the same Spanish teacher that she had the year before, and stopped cold."
Ah, Español. Our daughter's academic bane, her Kryptonite. One quarter the year before, she had straight A's and an F in Spanish. The F stood mostly for "failing to try at all," but even doses of diligent study, flash cards and parental nagging netted mostly C's in the marking periods to come.
Fast-forward 18 months. That academic year passed by, A's everywhere but Spanish despite help from my sister who estudió Española en la universidad. Another school year arrived, yet again with the same teacher, and . . . what's this?
One week ago this day, shortly after 9 a.m., our daughter took the stage with other soon-to-be graduating middle school classmates to be recognized for achieving high honors. Her mom and I -- we -- could not be prouder. So proud we only have this one thing to say: Kids, mine and yours -- don't take drugs.
UPDATE: Li’l Diva’s Spanish teacher informed her that she read my column. She found it funny. Also, she told my daughter that she has a high B going to finals in a week. Miracles, people, miracles.
UPDATED UPDATE: B for the quarter – B for whole dang year.