All semester long, scholars have been refining their speaking skills and exploring creative writing. Everyone has been working hard to improve their rhetoric, voice modulation, dialogue, and more. Now that the semester is coming to an end, we'd like to showcase the following student's stories and speeches:
Jennifer Zhang (Gr 9)
(click on the student's name to view their showcase)
A Standard Expectation
Everyone’s teenage years are rough. A little emotional moment can start a complete breakdown with no ‘recover’ button. I blame puberty. Every time I get together with the other parents from Tommy’s school, everybody seems to be connecting through these random teenage tantrums their kids have had. Everybody but me.
After work, I came back to a room of absolute silence. It was already dark outside but the lights were still off and the blinds still open. If a stranger walked by my house they would think that no one was home, but I knew that my 15-year-old son was isolated in his room with no awareness of the time or date.
“Hey, Tommy, can I come in?” I asked as I stood outside his door.
“But Mom, I’m busy. Maybe some other time.”
“It will only take a moment. I want to talk to you.”
Silence was the only reply I got. Being the impatient person I am, I opened the door to find half of my son sitting at his desk with half of his body hiding behind stacks and stacks of textbooks.
“Mom, what is it?” He continued his homework without even looking up at me. “I already told you I am busy. Can you leave? Please?”
“Is that how you address your mother? I worked for the whole day and I just want to have a conversation with you. Is that too much to ask?”
“Ugh. Ok, ok, you don’t need to raise your voice. I mean, just ask nicely.”
“So what have you been working on?” I said as I sat down on his bed.
“Seriously, Mom? You came barging into my room to ask what I’m working on?”
“Just answer the question,” I commanded. My patience was dimming by the second.
“Ugh. Fine. Well, I’m studying for my science finals next week and I have an English essay to write. I also have to finish this group project that’s due tomorrow. Oh, and I guess I’m also self-studying AP Computer Science and AP Biology.”
Wow. Did he always have so much to do?
“That sounds like a lot of work. Do you have time to hang out with your friends these days? You know you have to relax every now and then.”
“Hang out? Well if you expect straight A’s from me this year, then hanging out is something I won’t be doing. Plus, my friends and I don’t really talk anymore. Besides, staying in suits me more.”
What? Since when did kids like homework more than hangouts? And what does he mean ‘if I expect him to get straight A’s’? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to expect from my children? Everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve talked to says that it’s important to set high goals. So what’s up with that tone? Is he stressed? Are his friends bullying him? Am I being too hard on him?
“Tommy, you know that I don’t expect you to get straight A’s in school right? I just want you to be happy.”
“No, listen to me, Tommy. School isn’t the most important thing in life. Take some time for yourself and just have fun. Don’t constantly worry about studies and getting ahead of your class or doing everyone’s share in a group project. Do you understand?”
“Mhm, yeah sure. Can you leave now?”
I could tell that he was getting bored with this conversation. He wanted nothing more than being able to continue his homework.
“Put down your pencil Tommy. I want to tell you a story. It won’t take long so just listen.”
“O MAH GAHHHH!” he grunted. “Fine, but you have to leave immediately once you’re done. Just know that I’m only listening because I want you gone.”
“Yes, fine,” I replied, happy that I was able to get this stubborn child to agree with me is already good enough. “When I was your age, I was like you too. I studied ‘til midnight all the time. But all this studying was taking away from my sleep, and I was constantly tired.”
“That’s because you’re old,” he snorted.
“I was always tired because I put so much effort and time into these assignments that I forgot about putting time aside for myself.”
“Gosh Mom, you sound like a Ted Talk speaker. Did you take a class for this or something?”
“Well, that’s a story for another time. But it’s true. Back then, school was so important to me. I felt like I needed to be perfect. Receiving a ‘B’ felt like the end of the world. I mean, the friends I had at the time were all perfect. They excelled at everything. I felt like I was the only person who was lacking. It wasn’t until grade 12 that I realized I missed out of my childhood. My obsession over grades and being ‘perfect’ made me miss out on so much. So I stopped. I stopped spending every moment stressing over grades and I stopped trying to be better than the people around me-”
“Wow. Soooo interesting Mom. Can you leave now? You’ve been talking forever and I still haven’t finished my homework.”
“Tommy, did you not listen? I just said that homework isn’t the most important thing in life!”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But this project still counts for 10% of my grade, so it would be greatly appreciated if YOU LEAVE.”
“Well, as long as you know that-”
“Mhm, yeah. Mom, no offense but you talk too much.”
“Ok, ok I’m leaving,” I said, getting ready to leave. As I opened the door, he stopped me.
“Hey Mom, what happened to the people who were better than you in school?”
“Hmm… They turned out pretty successful, I guess. But you have to remember, your mother’s title is ‘CEO’.”