Is The Bar Too High?


So… Henry is standing beside my chair (thankfully, before Game of Thrones starts!!!  I mean really!  What is happening with Tyrion??!!) and he is shifting from one foot to the next, as he tremulously says, “Mom?”  Now – I’m no genius – but I figure, something is up.

Indeed – he produced a math worksheet – God – I hate math word problems!!!  When are any of us ever going to have to manually figure out how to compound interest?!  Isn’t that one of the wonders of technology?  And if you have a child with a language based disability, math word problems are the dearth of our existence!!!!

Anyways, we worked through the problem.  But not before his anxiety started to ramp up and the shifting from one foot to the other became a frenzied dance.  And not in a “Dance like nobody’s watching” kind of way.

Next year, Henry is taking a foundation course at college (since he was in applied curriculum courses during high school), to get his university level english and math – and some sciences, because why not?  His eventual ambition is to take a course at The University of Ontario called Energy & Environmental Physics.  YIKES!!!!

Are we setting him up for failure?  Is the bar too high?

When John set off for university 2 years ago, it was to the same institution where some poor kid jumped out of a window and killed himself.  Now – I’ve always been pretty open and frank with my kids – especially John – and we let him know that there was absolutely no problem that was unsolveable.  Still – it’s a fairly scary thing as a parent to worry about whether or not your child is suffering in silence.  (Check out to see the good work they are doing to open up the conversation about mental health).

I have asked Henry’s teachers repeatedly whether they think he can succeed in this program.  They assure me that his work ethic, organizational skills, enthusiasm and desire to succeed will get him through.  I know all these things about him…  Am I being a shitty parent worrying that he might not be able to do this?  I don’t want to be a Gloomy Gus Naysayer… my parents were like that – it was all about having a marketable skill.  That’s all fine – but, if you hate what you’re doing, how marketable are you going to be?  It’s a long life and everyone should have the privilege of pursuing their passions.

So – although we are setting up every conceivable support system that I and the team at Durham can think of to help Henry succeed, there is always a Plan B.  We’ve already set him up with tutors; he might have to take a reduced course load…  If he finds the math and science courses are too tough, then we will look at alternative courses that he might be interested in….

I guess the point is, it is not Brian and I who are setting that bar higher and ever higher.  It is Henry!  And like the cushiony pad under the high jump bar, we will be there to cushion his fall – if there is one.  One thing is certain – we will always, always be on the sidelines cheering him on until our voices are hoarse….


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