Ahhh….the feeling of rejection, it always sucks. It’s a topic most of us would like to put off as parents until, well, forever. Unfortunately, it’s happening earlier and earlier in our children’s lives. So, you guys, how do you create a positive conversation centered around your kid being rejected (for whatever reason)?
We recently had to go through the middle school application process in NYC. It’s a lot of research, a lot of information and a lot of preparation in not a lot of time. As parents, we all want the best of everything for our kids, especially their education. With that in mind, we approached the process with an open mind and looked at schools that were not only in our neighborhood, but in other parts of the city. There were a few schools that piqued our interest and we decided to check them out. After investigating them, we decided that our son would apply to 2 schools out of our district – both are considerable long shots to begin with…think over 700 applications for 30-50 open seats, so basically a pipe dream. Never the less, let’s just see what happens. Well, one of them requires an interview for their acceptance process and we were notified yesterday that our kid would not be granted an interview. My immediate (and normal, mama bear) reaction was WHAT? Are you KIDDING me? He put time and thought into his essay, his letters of recommendation were better than most adults I’ve seen, his paperwork was all there, his grades are excellent…what could it have been? That lasted about 2 minutes, because in all truthfulness, who really cares? It’s middle school. He’s 10. Who gives a shit? Him not getting an interview to a public middle school is not even remotely a big deal. We knew going in that the odds of this happening were big. So I sent the email to my husband and decided to sit on it for a little bit before I had to tell him.
After having a few hours to digest the information myself, I decided that I was just going to give it to him straight. One great thing about this kid (among the many), is that he’s level headed. He’s considerate and thoughtful and he usually digests information in a mature way. Don’t get me wrong, he’s 10 and is full of half true information that he regurgitates from conversations he has with his friends to which we have to correct and re-inform, but that’s typical of this age. So after we got home from meeting our friends for dinner, while we were getting ready for bed, I casually mentioned the email. I started out reminding him of how challenging just getting an interview would be, (put on your pajamas), and because there were so many kids applying to a school that only has a few spots open, (put your clothes in the hamper) it would have been hard to even get into the interview round. Also, keep in mind that the people who have to go through thousands of pages of information have no idea what each kid is like in real life, (put your shoes away). So, the email basically said they had so many kids apply this year and they can’t interview them all so thanks for applying and good luck. (holding breath…waiting for it….). Then we sat for a few seconds in silence, on the edge of the bed, my arm around his back and as I was just about to say to him…this is in no way a reflection of the kid you are, these people have no idea what an awesome person you are…he turns to me and says…”well, one less thing we have to worry about, we never even got to look inside that school anyway” (and…breathe!). I’m not gonna lie, when I was later laying in bed, in the dark, alone (because Will is traveling for work), I got teary thinking about our conversation because I am so fiercely proud of him. As a parent you can try your hardest to anticipate the reaction, but when it goes a million times better then you could ever expect you realize that you’ve done something right. This kid, this sweet, loving, compassionate, competitive child is my something right.
I know there will be many more conversations about this stuff as they get older. Rejection is part of life, it’s not a fun part, it’s a learning part. If it’s a situation where it was something you really wanted, then it’s a time for reflection, a time to dissect the information and see where you could’ve improved or changed something. For my 10 year old, I don’t think dissecting it would have been the way to go. I have zero interest in trying to figure out why he wasn’t chosen over the kid who was. It’s a numbers game and he didn’t win that lottery. Plain and simple. Over and out. I learned an important lesson in this. I learned that my kid is way smarter than I give him credit for. I learned that even at a young age being honest and direct with the information given is the way to go. I learned that keeping my cool and being even keel and not making a big deal out of it helps. And I know at the end of the day, this has no bearing on his future. Perspective. Keeping it all in perspective.
After school we’re going to go play in the snow…have a great weekend!!