Bruce Sallan: Our teens love to surprise us with their latest brilliant idea -- and my 16-year-old didn't disappoint the other day.
Almost literally waiting at the door for my return home, he accosted me with the urgency only a hormonal teen can bring. "Dad," he declared, "I hate high school and want to drop out and do independent study."
I think I would've preferred, "Hey, Dad, whassup?"
We sat down and he began his pitch. He quickly dismissed as irrelevant the fact that all this followed a recent social disaster at school. His rationale was that he is totally bored at school, his teachers are boring, none of what he's learning interests him and he'd rather go back to homeschooling (or "independent study," as they call it at his high school).
Hmm. I think he may be the only teen in history who thinks school is a waste of time, that his teachers are boring and what he's learning is irrelevant. After all, he's a rock 'n' roller, so what's the point? I calmed him down and suggested he discuss it with his counselor to find out what would be involved. It's true that he did well when I homeschooled him during 18 months of middle school; also, he had attended a local community college at age 13, getting an "A" and a "B" in his two courses there.
But making such a rash decision didn't seem well thought out -- and while I didn't dismiss it out-of-hand, I said that such a big decision wasn't going to be made in a hurry. He has pretty much hated all of high school, with the exception of having a vibrant social life and a great girlfriend. However, that social life was set awry by a foolish Facebook post, and it hasn't gotten back on track yet. Could there be a connection?
So the next day, he visited his counselor. She explained all that would be involved -- and it wasn't easy or simple. After all the passion that had met me at the front door the day before, my son casually said, "Let's forget it" -- and that was the end of that. Another lesson in raising a teen: Don't overreact to their overreactions. But what do I know? I'm just a guy.