Kim Hedzik

Don't Blogger me, I'm writing.

Redefining High School: The New College

As the search for high schools got underway, my friend and her 8th grade daughter had to endure what I think of as an emotional root canal.  Minus the anesthesia.  First select your institutions. Shadow visit each high school that you might want to attend.  Fill out multiple online forms for each school.  Write an essay on why this or that high school, not university, should seriously think about accepting you into their prestigious institution. Answer personal and invasive questions, especially if you apply for financial aid, which you will because tuition may run about $30,000 a year, more or less.

Now it’s time to upload, download, scan and perform other technologically time consuming exercises. These are put in place to streamline the process no doubt, but often serve only to make you question just how much you really want to attend said school.  Then there’s the test preparations. One must first be tutored to increase test scores which are inevitably too low no matter how high they are. Once you have paid a lot of money and spent every weekend and evening of your eight grade fall semester learning how to take the  test, you take the test.  Then you take it again to see if you can raise your score even more. This process increases your adrenaline, burns all your B-vitamins and reduces your self-esteem.  Now that you’ve increased your test score by a full 9 points, you wonder if maybe becoming a dentist is really worth it.  Especially since you could become an academic and administer an equally challenging admissions procedure without the needles and extra years of dental school.

It’s necessary to point out that this friend of mine lives in one of the largest and most vibrant cities on the West coast. An international destination. A city full of competition, culture and limited parking.   Not a place where public school is a sensible option.  This 8th grader has spent nine years in an independent, all girls school.  Naturally, she has been exposed to the extreme diversity a private school offers.  She was surrounded by the offspring of upper crust, Ivy League grads whose social connections resemble the Forbes Top 50 Most Successful People list.  The academic training was top notch.  Expansive and inclusive.  Mind-broadening and spirit-enhancing. Who wouldn’t love it.

By contrast, my friend’s daughter is a gal who’s parents are acupuncturists.  Chinese medicine gurus. Healers.  They don’t own a house let alone live in one.  A city flat serves as both a home and an office depending on the time of day. This allows them to afford the private K-8th grade school, ballet lessons, and vacations.  These friends of mine are hard working, college grads who want their daughter to have a shot at a reasonably secure and fulfilling future.  Who can argue with that?

And so the frenzy to select a private high school continues.  And that high school better feed into a name brand university which produces graduates who may or may not know themselves well enough to function in the world that is being defined and redefined as I write this.  Some reports indicate that as many as 50 percent of college freshman have to take basic math and English to regain skills lost to the SAT testing monster or to the merciless pursuit of extra curricular activities that they may or may not even enjoy.  Or, they may know the facts, but can not apply them to real world problems.  I recently heard that seven out of 10 jobs that current 8th graders will have available to them upon college graduation have yet to be created.  How can one prepare for that?

My very own 8th grader may have some insight.  She recently gave me this sage advise regarding technology:  “Just click around.  That’s how I’ve learned. By clicking the wrong button.” She is telling me that one learns by making mistakes?  Maybe she will be okay in this new world that has yet to be created. Maybe that age old wisdom will still be true in another six-10 years. But just in case, I think I’ll have her apply to a few carefully scrutinized private high schools.


The 12 Days of Christmas

Written for those of us who just can’t get past the holidays without a little hick-up of depravity. Please sing the appropriate music.  You know the tune.

On the 12th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

12 Mumblers Mumbling

11 Diapers Drying

10 Doors-a-Squeaking

9  Wounds-for-Lancing

8  Traders Bilking

7  Lawns o-need-a Trimming

6  Priests a Praying

5  Moldy Things

4  Appalling Words

3  Hench Men

2  Purple Rugs

and a Colonoscopy.

Merry Christmas!

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Aging is Not for Everyone

Today, for the first time ever, I colored my very dark brown hair.  I did it because my head looked like a floral arrangement with grey white swirly twigs placed artfully at various angles.  I tried ironing the grey with a high-priced straightening device.  No good. I tried plucking. Too many.  I considered Sharpies. Too weird.  Salon. Too expensive.

So after those failures, I bravely bought hair color in the adventurous shade called,  “dark brown.”  I’m in my mid-40’s and have three kids.   By some standards that’s late to start coloring your hair.  Many people have already pulled theirs out by then.

Doing the “Hair Coloring Right of Passage” thing made me feel old.  Or maybe it’s because I’m starting to find AARP articles interesting.  Or maybe because I developed a foot condition that sends a sharp shooting pain right up through my heel – forever barring me from the Cute Sandal look because this condition requires corrective shoe inserts. Or because other people Txt, Twitter, and LinkedIn and I simply Google, PDF, and Blog.

Then recently, my teenage daughter asked me to listen to some “mosquito ring tones” on the computer.  They are categorized by age.  For instance, only those under 30 years old can hear this tone.  It was separated in intervals of about 10 years.   Stupidly, I asked her to let me try the, “only those under 49 can hear this.”   I could not hear a darn thing.  We tried again.  Nothing.  She described the sound to me.  Still nothing.  I was really shaken.  This certainly confirmed what my hair-coloring breakdown only suggested.

I went to the gym in response to my increasing malaise.  There I found women who looked older than me and were lifting heavier weights than I could for more repetitions than I would.  I found myself approaching the instructor with, “I hate to sound like an old lady, but could you please turn the music down a little.”  She gave me a sly odd smile that said, “Okay, but that’s so un-cool.”  Rather than ask her again the next week, I wore earplugs.  Can’t risk anymore “ring tone” losses.

It’s mysterious to me how people say having children keeps you young, alert and spry.  It seems to me that having children mostly causes hearing loss (notably in the high-pitched whine range) and a marked increase in grey hair with attitude. I guess we all have to face aging, but how we do it will be the measure of our success.  Good luck to all of you.  If you see me at the market wearing a cap over suspicious looking hair, and I don’t respond to your verbal greeting, but instead stare past you humming a familiar ring tone melody, then at least check to see if I’m wearing sandals.